The education opportunities granted to Bridgeport students are crucial to their future success. Bridgeport schools strive to provide every student with twelve years of high-quality public education to prepare them for great achievements beyond high school. Various adverse conditions such as lack of funding and adequate staff deter from fully accomplishing the goal of attaining educational excellence. However, even with the adversities Bridgeport’s schools face, the district has begun to see steadily improved standardized test scores, decreased suspension rates, and great success in its nationally recognized social and emotional learning initiatives. The BPS District along with community members must work together in order to move Bridgeport towards a brighter educational future; one in which all children are able to thrive and reach their fullest potential.
We are currently involved in the following Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) initiatives:
The RULER Approach
The RULER Approach is an evidence-based SEL program that was developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is an acronym that stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions. The Bridgeport Public Schools are in the process of implementing the RULER Approach district-wide. BCAC has provided advocacy and training to help bring the program to all schools, as well as to the broader Bridgeport community. In 2017, BCAC will continue its work promoting the RULER Approach by providing several trainings for parents and other community members.
Read more: Social and Emotional Learning: Why Students Need It. What Districts Are Doing About It. Fall 2016, NoVo Foundation and Education First
The Out-of-School Suspension Task Force
During the 2009-10 school year, the Bridgeport Public School (BPS) District issued over 6,000 out-of-school suspensions (OSS). Nearly a decade later in 2017, the number of OSS have decreased 47%. In fact, during the 2016-17 school year, the BPS students received 3,190 out-of-school suspensions (OSS), a decrease of 6% from the previous school year. 4,731 in-school suspensions (ISS) were given in 2016-17, a decrease of 6.9% from 2015-16. The 2016-17 school year is the first year ISS rates have declined since 2013-14.
Although suspensions are often the most widely utilized strategies for addressing misconduct, extensive research finds suspensions rarely solve misconduct incidents nor effectively address situations leading up to suspension. OSS in particular has been linked to low academic achievement and has been argued to contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. In recent years, even amidst ongoing budgetary struggles, the BPS District has sought to combat antiquated methods of discipline with the advent of Social and Emotional Learning.
For more in-depth information of Bridgeport Public School suspensions, please see our 2017 report: “Improving School Climate Through SEL: A Case Study” or our Lost Class Time: The State of Suspensions in Bridgeport Schools report from 2009.
Restorative Practices are successfully used for classroom management; collaborative pedagogy; student support; emotional awareness and literacy; building a positive school climate; alternate discipline; and strengthening positive connections with parents and the community. They consist of methods and interventions that work to prevent harm and conflict by creating a sense of belonging, safety, and social responsibility within the school community. BCAC is partnering with the Bridgeport Public Schools to train and implement Restorative Practice teams in schools across the city.
For more in-depth information and results of implementing Restorative Practices, please see our 2017 report: “Improving School Climate Through SEL: A Case Study”
Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
The CBITS program is a school-based, group and individual intervention. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support, and coping skills. TF-CBT is a child-and-parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. As a member of the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Community Engagement Strategy Core Team, BCAC is supporting the initial implementation and planning for sustainability of school-based trauma services for the Bridgeport community.