As the harms of traditional responses to student misbehavior have come into sharper focus, many schools have adopted some form of restorative justice. But there have been few rigorous studies of its effects.
Our evaluation of an ambitious restorative justice program at a handful of New York City schools returned a mixed result: widespread perceptions of an improved school climate, but little impact on the reliance on suspensions.
Our decision to prioritize the use of suspensions was in line with the focus of policymakers, but it may not be realistic to assume restorative justice programs can impact such a longstanding and systemic response. We conclude by inviting future researchers to consider metrics more aligned with restorative justice's overall goals.
Hear a special roundtable episode of our New Thinking podcast, 'Restorative Justice is Racial Justice'