A middle school campus in a Southeast urban community used a Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle, an inquiry method in improvement science, to address high exclusionary discipline rates by implementing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies and Restorative Practices (RP) to transform school culture. A reform to a comprehensive discipline program was developed to minimize the amount of exclusionary discipline outcomes (in-school suspension [ISS], out-of- school suspension [OSS], and expulsion) among students while increasing student attendance rates, student achievement, and teacher retention. Three distinct cycles will be examined, each concentrating on a different problem of practice and intervention. These methods were introduced, practiced, and applied throughout the school to establish a safe, academically challenging, and emotionally supportive environment. The campus established a School Culture Design Team, which served as a Network Improvement Community, to improve student performance in academic and non-academic areas. As evaluated by district and state data, the campus has achieved significant reductions in discipline referrals and suspensions as a result of the implementation of Social Emotional Learning and Restorative Practices, as well as the continuing application of improvement cycles. This has had a favorable impact on school culture as assessed by attendance, academic proficiency, student-teacher interactions, and retaining teachers using quantitative and qualitative methods. The Network Improvement Committee would place “priority on solving a problem together rather than pursuing a theoretical predilection, methodological orientation or personal belief” (Bryk et al., 2017, p. 17).

Date of publication

Summer 7-10-2023

Document Type

Dissertation (Local Only Access)



Persistent identifier


Committee members

Michael Odell, Ph.D., Yanira Oliveras-Ortiz, Ph.D., Woonhee Sung, Ed.D.


Doctor of Education in School Improvement



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