Communities Aligning for School Transformation (CAST)

Communities Aligning for School Transformation (CAST)

Prevent School Violence Illinois (PSVI) has partnered with the National School Climate Center (NSCC) (www.schoolclimate.org) and five Illinois middle schools in the Communities Aligning for School Transformation (CAST) Project. The goal of the CAST Project is to support educational leaders and members of their school communities to transform their school’s climate and reduce bias-based bullying. 


The CAST approach combines elements of PSVI’s and NSCC’s approaches to school transformation.  PSVI’s approach, Comprehensive School Transformation (CST), contributes an itinerary of places to visit on the path toward school transformation, while NSCC’s model provides a specific set of steps to guide the whole journey.  CST helps offers a school a way schools ought to be in order to provide safe and supportive climates to all members of their community. Although the CST model is informed by empirical research and best practices, it is neither proscriptive, nor does it recommend specific programs. Instead, the CST model highlights specific kinds of policies and practices that schools can use to use to improve their climates and subsequently reduce bullying and harassment.

To complement PSVI’s vision of how schools ought to be to be safe, supportive and engaging for all people in the community, NSCC’s model outlines a process and set of instructions for how schools can get there. The School Climate Improvement Project (SCIP) model was developed by NSCC and has been used, in various iterations, by hundreds of schools throughout the United States. It is a five-stage, cyclical school improvement process that involves a specific set of tasks and assessments at each stage. Although the SCIP model is implemented locally by a School Leadership Team, the process must engage all members of the school community in order to successfully improve climate.

Throughout their participation in this project, CAST school communities are supported by the staff and resources of the CAST team as they cycle repeatedly through the SCIP model stages toward the CST model vision of healthy school climate. This cyclical process offers schools a great deal of flexibility in determining which issues they deem important, which issues they want to prioritize, and what strategies they decide to implement. For instance, one school may decide to target stakeholder engagement before addressing any other domains, whereas another school community may choose to focus first on data-driven decision making and restorative discipline. Because this shared framework provides support for addressing a wide range of challenges that schools may face, it is easily tailored and adapted to the unique set of needs that every school has. In this way, any school that is interested in transforming its climate and reducing bullying can do so.

And ultimately that is the point: we know that better school climates improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of all members of their communities.

 

Written by Tim Tasker, CAST Project Manager.  For more information, click Contact Us.

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