Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 11, 1995

On Faculty:
PAR Discipline Management Model Getting Good Results

Karen Fay
School of Continuing Studies

     The chairs lining the wall in front of the principal's
office are empty, which has not always been the case at Hammond
Middle School in Columbia. 

     "Last year, you'd see the chairs outside the front office
filled with students waiting to see the administrators. It just
doesn't happen now," says Virginia Charles, a PTA member with a
daughter in the eighth grade.

     "We've seen a lot of growth in the past four years because
of continuing development in the county, and our school is
bursting at the seams," says Hammond's principal, David Oaks, who
faces the challenge of moving 800 children through hallways
designed for a maximum of 550. "With the additional students came
new management challenges including student discipline, which
needs to be managed effectively so as not to disrupt the entire
student body in a potentially chaotic setting."

     To help stop problems before they begin, Hopkins professor
Michael Rosenberg has been working with the middle school, as
well as a number of other schools in Maryland, to train them in
the "prevent, act and resolve" model for managing school
discipline. The PAR model's approach focuses on bringing together
teams of administrators, teachers and school support personnel to
develop strategies that prevent the occurrence of troubling
behavior among students; act, or respond to instances, when rules
are followed or broken; and resolve the issues that may cause the
unsettling behavior.  

     Rosenberg, professor and chairman of the Department of
Special Education in the School of Continuing Studies' Division
of Education, developed the model five years ago from research
focusing on inefficient learners--those students who have
learning and behavioral problems or who have trouble mentally
organizing what is taught in the classroom and, because of their
frustration, usually cause the most disturbances. 

     "The question that structured the research is, How do we
best create positive, nurturing, structured environments to help
difficult students?" Rosenberg says. "The model is a multifaceted
response to dealing with the complex issues that face children
today. We're beginning to understand how inefficient learners
think differently than other students. The model draws together
research on learning behavior modification, and violence
prevention, into a unified process to help schools manage all

     Training for school administrators and teachers takes place
during a three-to-five- day period. Participants begin by
articulating a mission statement for their school.  The group
then turns to identifying rules, expectations, and procedures
that will preempt problem behaviors. Finally, specific procedures
are developed that encourage students to respond positively to
the rules.

     "We, that is, myself and the doctoral students who work on
continuing to develop the PAR model, provide the guidelines and
parameters for the training session. The administrators and
teachers fill in the details. The end result is a comprehensive
plan unique to each school," Rosenberg says.  

     A booklet outlining the model is developed by the teachers
and presented to parents, new faculty and staff. During the first
week of class, students are introduced to the new model and taken
through the rules step by step.

     "The process makes it nearly impossible for any student to
say, 'I can do this in Mrs. Smith's class, but not in Mrs. Jones'
class.  The classroom rules are uniform throughout the school,"
Rosenberg adds. 

     "The PAR model is working for us because of the ownership
and commitment of the faculty," Oaks says. "It's been
particularly effective with our students who need a lot of

     "I'm here on a regular basis," says Pat Baker, Hammond
Middle School's PTA president who has a son in the seventh grade.
"I've noticed a subtle, but substantial difference in the
children's behavior. Other parents I've spoken with are

     An initial evaluation has found that the PAR model for
managing inappropriate behavior is working. Several of the
schools that received training reported a 50 to 70 percent
reduction in the number of suspensions and office referrals for
the first quarter of the academic year. According to Rosenberg,
the work is not completed. He recently presented the PAR model in
a teleconference workshop broadcast out of Atlanta to more than
350 schools nationwide.  

     "The program continues to expand," Rosenberg says. "This is
only one part of a line of research that we in the Division of
Education are involved in. In our collaboration with school
districts we hope to improve the educational outreach for all
students, particularly those who present challenging behaviors."

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