Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools

Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Approach to Supporting Students

Edited by David Osher, Deborah Moroney, and Sandra Williamson
paper, 288 Pages
Pub. Date: November 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-262-1
Price: $34.00

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Pub. Date: November 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-264-5

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Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools brings together the collective wisdom of more than thirty experts from a variety of fields to show how school leaders can create communities that support the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students. It offers an essential guide for making sense of the myriad evidence‐based frameworks, resources, and tools available to create a continuous improvement system.


Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools is an essential read for teachers, principals, district leaders, and organizations that work with schools to create challenging and supportive environments for all students. — Paul Cruz, superintendent, Austin Independent School District

Osher and colleagues not only connect the dots between big ideas—deeper learning, trauma, social and emotional learning, evidence-based programs, comprehensive community planning—but they model the continuous improvement approach in the way ideas are ordered across and within the chapters. This is a masterful volume: comprehensive, accessible, and way overdue. — Karen J. Pittman, cofounder, president and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment

This book provides a very usable road map for creating safe, healthy, equitable, and caring schools. The editors and contributors successfully integrate research, practice, and policy to help educators develop and implement effective and sustainable models to nurture caring schools that all children and educators deserve. — Mark T. Greenberg, Bennett Chair of Prevention Research, Pennsylvania State University

For district leaders seeking research-informed guidance on school improvement, Creating Safe Equitable, Engaging Schools provides a comprehensive resource with a focus on the importance of school equity as a key ingredient. — Meredith D. Powers and Jessika H. Bottiani, Teachers College Record

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About the Editors

David Osher, PhD, is an Institute Fellow at American Institutes for Research. He is an expert on school safety, conditions for learning and school climate, social and emotional learning, youth development, violence prevention, supportive school discipline, cultural competence, family engagement trauma vulnerability, cultural responsiveness, and collaborative research. He has led numerous evaluations of initiatives and programs, systematic reviews, expert panels, and projects that supported schools, districts, and states in promoting school safety and addressing disciplinary disparities.

Osher coauthored Safe, Drug-Free, and Effective Schools: What Works! and led the expert panel that produced Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools, which was released by President Clinton, as well as two related products for the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services, Safeguarding Our Children: An Action Guide and Safe and Supportive Schools Step by Step. He was also the lead author of Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline: An Educator’s Action Planning Guide, which was released by the White House in July 2015. Osher helped the US Department of Education develop the National Agenda for Improving Results for Children and Youth with Serious Emotional Disturbance, served as senior advisor in the development of the Department of Education School Climate Surveys, chaired the expert panel convened for the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice on the relationship between disability and involvement in the juvenile court and correctional systems, and led the What Works Clearinghouse review of character education.

Osher serves on numerous expert panels and editorial boards and has authored or coauthored over 390 books, monographs, chapters, articles, and reports, as well as 185 peer-reviewed papers and invitational presentations. He has served as dean and taught at a liberal arts college and two professional schools of human services.

Deborah Moroney, PhD, is a Managing Director at American Institutes for Research, and is Director of the Youth Development and Supportive Learning Environments practice area. Moroney’s research and practice experience is in social and emotional learning and youth development. She is the architect of a collaborative method for the design of dual-purpose (improvement and demonstration) evaluation frameworks for national multisite youth development programs. Additionally, she serves as the principal investigator of evaluations and research studies in youth development programs. Moroney has consulted with intermediaries, foundations, associations, and universities on their conceptualization of youth development resources and evaluation strategies. Her work provides a bridge between research and practice.

Moroney currently serves on the editorial board of Afterschool Matters and is on the publication committee of the Journal of Youth Development. She has authored numerous chapters, peer-reviewed publications, and organizational guides using both research findings and practitioner input on youth development and social and emotional learning, including Ready to Assess. She was a coauthor of the fourth edition of the seminal resource Beyond the Bell: A Toolkit for Creating Effective Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs. Prior to joining AIR, Moroney was a clinical faculty member in educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Youth Development Graduate Program.

Sandra Williamson, MEd, CAGS, is a Vice President for Policy, Practice, and Systems Change at American Institutes for Research. She has over forty years of experience working to improve services for students with special learning or behavioral needs. She was a special education administrator at the district level early in her career, and has provided technical assistance and training for the last eighteen years through nationally funded projects. She has led the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments since 2010 for the US Department of Education, providing technical assistance to states and districts on improving school climate. She has also led the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, focused on improving access to school- and community-based mental health services. She serves as principal investigator for projects related to developing multitiered social-emotional supports in schools and accessing school-based mental health services and community-based programs, and for district evaluations of implementations of evidence-based programs, including programs that incorporate positive behavioral supports and programs focused on school discipline.

Williamson has contributed to multiple publications, including School-Based Mental Health Services in Systems of Care, Inclusion Strategies for Students with Learning and Behavioral Problems, Collaboration with Other Agencies: Wraparound and System of Care for Children and Youth with EBD, A Comprehensive Approach to Promoting Social, Emotional, and Academic Growth in Contemporary Schools, and Focusing on the Whole Student: An Evaluation of Massachusetts’ Wraparound Zone Initiative.

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