Tennessee Releases Report on School Safety


Tennessee officials have released an evaluation of the state’s school safety and security measures.

The report, Keeping Tennessee Schools Safe, which was issued by Comptroller of the Treasure Justin Wilson and the Offices of Research and Education Accountability Sept. 17, conclude the following:

  • Tennessee’s statewide statutes, policies, and requirements for violence prevention and intervention are comprehensive and address most of the identified best practices for safe and secure learning environments.
  • Staff and funding to implement the requirements of the SAVE Act are limited and decreasing.
  • Current Tennessee data on school violence is limited, but measurement is improving. TDOE is expanding its data collection to provide better and more precise measures of incidents of school violence.
  • State level guidance related to school building security (e.g., school resource officers, metal detectors, and video surveillance systems) is lacking. Many school administrators have directed substantial funds toward ensuring the security of their schools over preventive measures (e.g. staff training on violence prevention and counseling services). Although it is intuitive that such efforts enhance building security, OREA analysts found little research evaluating security measures as a means to deter or prevent violent incidents. The state requires districts to report on school security strategies and procedures in place, but does not currently require districts to assess their appropriateness or effectiveness.

The report also discusses the following legislative policy considerations:

  • Consider changing the allocation method for the limited designated state funds for school safety
  • Require statewide school climate assessments to better guide the state’s safety policies and programs

Additionally, the following administrative policy considerations are covered in the report:

  • Monitor, evaluate, and report on the SAVE Act’s effectiveness, including how the accountability and technicalassistance components of the act are being met given staff and funding reductions
  • Develop additional requirements within the SAVE Act framework to address other accepted best practices in violenceprevention
  • Research and evaluate the appropriate use and effectiveness of school building security measures. Provide guidanceto schools on the optimum balance between security and prevention methods
  • Reexamine Tennessee’s criteria for designating schools as dangerous

The report was prompted by the 2008 fatal shooting at a Tennessee high school.

To view the full report, click here..

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