In Tennessee, grantee finds that a much-heralded app does little to overcome disparities in school discipline

Reporter Katherine Reynolds Lewis, with support from the Fund, looked at how a rural Tennessee school district turned to an app to help change its practices after being censured for imposing discipline disproportionately on Black students and those with disabilities. The new technology promised to aid in the use of restorative practices, which have been hailed for positive results in schools struggling to correct decades-old racial disparities in achievement and suspension. Lewis interviewed officials, examined state and federal discipline data, reviewed scientific research, and interviewed scientists across many fields. She found that the science underlying educational training and technology companies’ claims is often weak or contradictory. The story documented how the public school system’s focus on data encourages administrators to do more to make the data look good than to address actual behavior and school climate issues that lead to discipline problems.