The 1999 Washington State Legislature directed the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to address disruptive behavior by students. Using a $2 million appropriation, OSPI implemented the Foundations for Learning: Safe and Civil Schools Project to promote a positive instructional approach to school discipline by building collaborative school teams though a training process. Schools had to apply for project participation through Safe and Drug Free Schools Program. The project, funded for two years, included 123 schools: 19 high schools, 26 middle schools, and 78 elementary schools.
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy was asked by OSPI to evaluate the Foundations Project. The preliminary evaluation is encouraging since the teacher surveys show some positive improvements after the first year of the planned three-year implementation effort. News from the research community is also encouraging. Researchers are having success in finding programs shown to change school environments and student behaviors. Schools can be more confident in implementing a research-based school-wide initiative to develop effective discipline practices and school norms, and then adding programs within that environment to target specific behaviors, such as bullying, or programs that focus on specific at-risk student groups.