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A Thesis Presented to the Faculty

California State University, Stanislaus

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
of Master of Arts in Education

George L. Megenney
May 2016





Signed Certification of Approval Page is

on file with the University Library

George L. Megenney

_____________________________________ ______________________
Dr. John Borba Date
Professor of School Administration

_____________________________________ ______________________
Dr. Susan Neufeld Date
Professor of Education

© 2016

George Megenney


This work is dedicated to my wife Debbie Megenney and her resolute support

of my forward progress and continued learning. I am indebted to her encouragement

and patience as I made my way through a second graduate program with the dual

intention of self-improvement and application of new ideas for the benefit of the

young minds with whom I have been entrusted to work. The research and findings

that follow are also dedicated to my three sons David, Timothy and Michael, that they

may see that hard work, persistence, and study can lead to interesting and worthwhile


Finally, this work is dedicated to my parents, William and Ruth Megenney,

without whose support and kindly upbringing I would not have been able to achieve

so much. Sin la educación y sabiduría es difícil avanzar.



I would like to thank Dr. John Borba for his guidance and direction through

the process of creating the work that follows. Without his help, I daresay that the task

would have been significantly more difficult to complete.

To Talmage Allen, my former Assistant Principal, who suggested to me that I

ought to seek an administrative credential and take on new and more challenging

responsibilities, this only proves that your power to influence goes far beyond young

minds! Without his gentle “nudge,” I would not now be presenting this work at this


I must also thank David Lattig and Stephanie Parker, administrators in

Escalon Unified School District, who have provided a great deal of guidance and

support as I completed various stages of my program. It is fair to say that their

encouragement and inclusion in various aspects of school operations helped to open

my eyes and teach me all sorts of new lessons.

It would be inappropriate not to thank Nellie Berchtold and Becky Adlemann,

two of the finest school secretaries with whom I have worked, and without whose

assistance the collection of data would have been additionally difficult. I must also

thank Nicole Boyd, whose e-mail correspondence and additional assistance with data

proved invaluable for my research.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Susan Neufeld both for serving on my thesis

committee and for providing additional suggestions for the improvement of this work.




DEDICATION ....................................................................................................... iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................... v

LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................. viii

ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................... ix


I. INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY..................................................... 1  

Background .................................................................................... 1  
Statement of Problem ..................................................................... 3  
Research Question ......................................................................... 4  
Hypothesis...................................................................................... 4  
Significance of the Study ............................................................... 4  
Limitations ..................................................................................... 5  
Delimitations .................................................................................. 5  
Definition of Terms........................................................................ 6  
Summary ........................................................................................ 7  

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ....................................................... 8  

Introduction .................................................................................... 8  
The Evolution of Disciplinary Policy ............................................ 8  
A Brief Review of Tardy Policies .................................................. 12  
Previous Studies Conducted on the Effectiveness of
Tardy Policies ............................................................................. 15  
Research Studies ............................................................................ 15  
Summary ........................................................................................ 23  

III. METHODS AND PROCEDURES...................................................... 24  

Introduction .................................................................................... 24  
Sample Population ......................................................................... 24  
Treatment ....................................................................................... 25  
Instrumentation and Data Collection ............................................. 29  
Statistical Analysis ......................................................................... 30

Summary ........................................................................................ 30

IV. DATA COLLECTION AND RESULTS ........................................... 31  

Introduction .................................................................................... 31  
Description of the Analysis ............................................................ 31  
Findings of the Null Hypothesis .................................................... 32  
Summary ........................................................................................ 32  


RECOMMENDATIONS ..................................................................... 33  

Introduction .................................................................................... 33  
Summary ........................................................................................ 33  
Conclusions .................................................................................... 35  
Implications.................................................................................... 35  
Recommendations for Further Research ........................................ 40  

REFERENCES .................................................................................................. 42




1. Random Survey of California High School Tardy Policies ....................... 13

2. Paired Sample T-Test: Tardies Before (2011–2012) and After

(2012–2013) Implementation of Policy Changes ...................................... 32



The issue of increased student tardiness within U.S. schools and the resulting

allocation of time and resources required to mitigate its unwanted effects has been an

ongoing problem during the past two decades. Students who consistently miss the

beginning of instruction are more likely to suffer from lower grades and deal with

disciplinary consequences of their tardy behavior that later require additional school

time and monetary cost. The introduction of restorative justice concepts within some

schools’ disciplinary policies came about after the ineffective and damaging use of

zero tolerance policies drew criticism. Restorative justice, though originating from

the criminal justice system, was adapted in education to address problem behaviors

among students. Educators who have embraced restorative justice concepts expect

students who have transgressed school policies to engage in dialog about their

behavior. A paired sample t-test was used to determine the effects of a high school’s

revised tardy policy among a group of 163 students during the course of one

academic year. This researcher input the number of individual tardies for students

selected for this study for each of two academic school years into the Statistical

Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and set the alpha level at .05. The results of

the statistical analysis showed no significant change in the tardy rate among the group

when comparing the academic school year prior to the subsequent year when the

policy was implemented. The findings of this study suggest that the changes made to

the school-wide tardy policy did not significantly reduce tardiness among students.




The accountability of public schools regarding student achievement has been

on the forefront of federal and state mandated reform efforts since the publication of

A Nation at Risk in 1983. The Reagan era report represented an 18-month effort to

uncover weaknesses within the American public school system; the end result was a

scathing and troublesome critique:

Secondary school curricula have been homogenized, diluted, and diffused to

the point that they no longer have a central purpose. In effect, we have a

cafeteria style curriculum in which the appetizers and desserts can easily be

mistaken for the main courses. (Gardner, 1983, para. 3)

Previous attempts to improve education dating back to the 1965 passage of the

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) focused on the academic progress

of economically disadvantaged students through the funding of various programs

designed to foster equal access and equity. Waves of reform that followed the

publication of A Nation at Risk have almost solely focused on school accountability

and academic rigor without fully appreciating or acknowledging just how overzealous

the focus on testing could become (Grinell & Rabin, 2013). Such trends were evident

in the creation and implementation of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act

in 1999, the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001, Race to the Top in
2009, and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by several states

since 2010. According to Grinell and Rabin (2013):

When we ask our students merely to be ‘academic performers’ and then press

them into our service by demanding that they produce decontextualized

evidence of their cognitive and academic abilities in the form of responses on

scan-tron forms, we transform them from children with idiosyncratic interests,

individualized skills and abilities and complex needs, goals and desires into

narrowly conceived test takers whose primary task is relentlessly to produce

widgets of quantitative data that market-based educational system reformers

crave. (pp. 753-754)

While the damage wrought by years of standardized testing is something that

has been addressed by the more flexible parameters of the CCSS, the pressures

manifested by the need for improved academic achievement and accountability have

not dissipated. Educators may therefore ask, is there a connection between student

lack of eagerness to attend class and the general perception that standardized,

mandated programs have little real world value or application?

In order for schools to meet academic achievement targets and remain within

the expected and accepted parameters of imposed accountability measures, a variety

of methods and techniques designed to keep students both engaged in learning and

punctual are desirable. Students who are chronically tardy to class present their

teachers and administrators with numerous challenges: classroom disruptions, loss of

learning time to themselves and others, additional demands on administrative staff

and other resources (Powell, 2013).

Restorative justice techniques have been employed in many schools across the

nation with the specific intention of educating and teaching appropriate behaviors

rather than penalizing inappropriate behavior at school (Robinett, 2012). Restorative

justice is a concept that originated within the criminal justice system. It may be

adapted to public education in order to provide various alternatives to traditional

discipline forms such as student detention, school suspension or expulsion as a means

by which to transform individual disciplinary issues into learning opportunities

designed to give rise to improvements in student behavior, attendance and

achievement (Wachtel, 2013).

This study will examine how the tardy policy changes made at a rural high

school in the Central Valley of California reflect the use of some restorative justice

concepts in an effort to determine whether or not the alterations made to the policy

resulted in a substantive decline in the number of late arriving students.

Statement of Problem

Tardiness among high school students contributes to a number of concerns

including lower academic achievement, discipline issues and the additional school

resources (Powell, 2013). Data gathered by researchers suggest that school

administrators and teachers are spending more time dealing with student punctuality

now than in the recent past (Light, 2008).

Research Question

Do high school tardy policies based on a restorative justice philosophy

improve student punctuality?


H1. There is no significant difference in tardiness rates between freshmen 1

year prior to the implementation of a more lenient tardy policy and the same students

as sophomores 1 year after the implementation of a more lenient tardy policy.

Significance of the Study

Beneficiaries of this study may include habitually tardy students and their

families, who stand to gain a better understanding of the importance of on-time

attendance. In addition, teachers and administrators may find the information

revealing with regard to how policy implementation and enforcement impact students

and their families. Confusion, misinterpretation, or lack of consistency regarding an

expected code of conduct on a school campus inevitably leads to further problems

among students, their families, and school staff (Hudson, 2009). This study may lead

to the alteration of current tardy policy in favor of a combination of differing methods

designed to reduce tardiness and improve student attendance.

Studies that examine changes to school tardy and associated disciplinary

policies in light of the demands made upon educators regarding accountability and

academic achievement may contribute to an understanding of the success or failure of

restorative justice concepts as applied to chronically tardy students.


This study was limited to one high school, grades 9-12, located in the Central

Valley of California during the 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 academic years.

Freshman student records for 2011–2012 academic year were accessed, as were the

sophomore records of the same students for the 2012–2013 academic year in order to

track changes within the same cohort. Students listened to and read explanations

about the school’s tardy policies during Reading Period within both of the academic

years under examination. At a staff meeting prior to the first day of school, the

teaching staff was instructed by the assistant principal to review the tardy policy with

all students during Reading Period. However, it cannot be determined how many

teachers followed the required administrative procedure of reading and focusing the

desired attention on student disciplinary policies during the requisite time period, or

how engaged students were at those specific moments when policies were being

reviewed. These must therefore be considered confounding variables within this

study. Additional access to the written policy was also provided via the student

handbook and made available to all stakeholders online through the school’s website.


For the purposes of this study, gender, socioeconomic status (SES),

standardized test scores of students, parent involvement and teacher experience were

not considered.

Definition of Terms

Extracurricular privileges. Optional after school activities, such as

participation in sports, dances, and club field trips offered to students who do not

violate the following academic and behavioral criteria on a progress report or report

card: two F’s and one U (unsatisfactory citizenship), or one F and two U’s in any


Freshman high school student. A student in Grade 9 who attends a

comprehensive public school.

Reading period. A 25-minute class period designated mainly for sustained

silent reading, but also used for school-wide safety and discipline instruction and

other miscellaneous activities.

Restorative justice. Behavioral modification methods used to prevent the

reoccurrence of unwanted behaviors in students through administrative-student

discussion of self-improvement, where the importance of individual responsibility,

awareness of personal choice in positive or negative decision-making, roles as

important inter-connected participants in a larger community, and fairness of process

are all stressed.

Sophomore high school student. A student in Grade 10 who attends a

comprehensive public school.

Tardiness. The act or action of being late to class.

Tardy policy. A specific set of rules and consequences for students who have

arrived late to class without a verified or appropriate excuse.

Zero tolerance. Strict and uncompromising enforcement and interpretation of

school disciplinary policies.


Ongoing changes in public education since the 1980s have required

educational leaders to implement reforms designed to demonstrate tangible

improvement in student academic performance. Although efforts to ensure

accountability have been measured through the lens of punitive action, such as with

some of the harsher elements contained within portions of the original NCLB, recent

attempts to improve student achievement by employing restorative justice techniques

rather than relying on traditional disciplinary models may yield new insights about

how best to help students. Students cannot be successful if they are habitually late to

class, missing instruction, and then subsequently pulled out of class to face

disciplinary consequences for their tardy behavior. This study will compare the

tardiness rates of the freshmen of the 2011–2012 academic year with the same

students as sophomores in the 2012–2013 academic year to determine whether or not

a change in the school’s tardy policy reflecting ideas drawn from the restorative

justice model had an effect on tardiness rates. Chapter II will present a review of the

literature related to the topic of this study.





The purpose of this study is to determine how tardy policy changes made at a

rural high school in the Central Valley of California reflect the use of some

restorative justice concepts in an effort to determine whether or not the alterations

made to the policy resulted in a substantive decline in the number of late arriving

students. Chapter II will present a discussion of changes to disciplinary policy over

time, a brief review of the variety of tardy policies in use in some California high

schools, and an examination of studies previously conducted on the topic of student

tardiness. The review of literature that follows is intended to provide the reader with

a broader understanding of the general topic of student discipline and its relationship

to the problem of student tardiness.

The Evolution of Disciplinary Policy

Parallel to the evolution of American schools and efforts by educators to

improve student learning and achievement has been the need to better understand

student misbehavior. During the early to mid 20th century, public school educators

commonly employed a more limited range of methods to deal with wayward

adolescent habits. These included the use of a primitive form of in-school suspension

in one room school houses where students who crossed disciplinary boundaries were

sometimes required to stand or sit in a corner with a dunce cap on their head (Morris

& Howard, 2003). Corporal punishment was another appliance in the limited toolbox

of disciplinary methodology, and continues to be in some states that have not yet

banned its use. Challenges to the legality of corporal punishment during the 1970s

resulted in the elimination of methods to deal with wayward adolescent habits. These

included the use of a primitive form of in-school suspension in one room school

houses where students who crossed disciplinary boundaries were sometimes required

to stand or sit in a corner with a dunce cap on their head (Morris & Howard, 2003).

During the 1960s, the use of out-of school suspension began to take hold as a

preferred and more enlightened method of dealing with unruly behavior (Allman &

Slate, 2011). Although suspension from school may have temporarily removed

disruptive students from classrooms, such policies did not address the causes of

misbehavior. Later research suggested that out of school suspensions simply

exacerbated the misconduct of already troubled students (Allman & Slate, 2011).

The development of zero tolerance policies that originated in the 1980s was

meant to stifle drug and weapon related crime. However, given that A Nation at Risk

was published in 1983, it should shock few educators today that connections were

eventually made between the concept of zero tolerance as it applied to halting

criminal activity and its application to dissuading inappropriate school behavior

(Teske, 2011). The ghastly shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 only helped

to cement these attitudes both within the nation’s schools as well as within its

criminal justice system (Schachter, 2010).

According to Teske (2011), school suspension rates more than doubled

between 1974 and 2001 from 1.4 to 3.1 million students. Although zero tolerance

policies were originally intended to deal with drug and weapons related offenses,

their application by school officials during the 1990s had a trickle-down effect that

led to their use elsewhere in school disciplinary codes, including truancy and tardy

policies (Allman & Slate, 2011).

The adoption of No Child Let Behind (NCLB) in 2003 did not witness the

abatement of zero tolerance policies; instead it continued to foster it. Embedded

within President George W. Bush’s proposed legislation were both rudimentary

classroom management and state level fiscal incentives that clearly supported

ongoing efforts to maintain zero tolerance discipline within American schools:

“Teachers will be empowered by the states to remove violent or persistently

disruptive students from the classroom. In order to receive funds from this program,

states must adopt a zero tolerance policy for violent or persistently disruptive

students” (Bush, 2001, p. 26). Yet, according to 2009 data from the National Center

for Education and Statistics (NCES), despite ongoing efforts to decrease student

misconduct through zero tolerance policies, “the number of disciplinary actions

reported by schools has not changed…to a measureable degree since the 2003-4

school year” (Allman & Slate, 2011, p. 3). Furthermore, additional research suggests

that removing students from classrooms for non-violent offenses can have long-term

damaging consequences for students, families, the school and larger community

(Teske, 2011). According to González (2012):

There is a continuum of entry points into the school-to prison pipeline ranging

from early school-based behavior problems that result in suspensions,

expulsions, or alternative education program placements, to more serious law

breaking and probation violations which involve the juvenile justice system

and, ultimately, criminal prosecution and incarceration by the adult penal

system. (p. 292)

The impact of zero tolerance policies on American public schools during the

past two decades will continue to require careful research and evaluation while

educators explore both older and newer disciplinary strategies.

Although in-school suspension (ISS) of the type given to students in the one

room schoolhouse is no longer condoned, the concept of retaining students on school

grounds while suspending them from the classroom remains in practice. ISS

programs of the distant past removed students from the general student population for

a day, isolated them and denied them access to their teachers and normal curriculum

(Morris & Howard, 2003). However, trends in place during the past decade have

witnessed some ISS programs that incorporate the use of certified teachers or

educational assistants within isolated classrooms to guide independent instruction as a

means to decrease the loss of instructional time (Morris & Howard, 2003).

Zero tolerance ideology operated under the premise that unruly behavior

might diminish if disruptive students were not given second or third opportunities to

disturb classrooms. Yet, as educators became aware that such policies had not led to

desired results, the emergence of less punitive alternative methods in the early 2010s,

such as restorative justice, suggested that rule breaking could be dealt with by

allowing offenders an opportunity to learn from their mistakes (Schachter, 2010).

A Brief Review of Tardy Policies

While an underlying problem that educators face is student tardiness, the

methods by which school administrators use to reduce such behavior boil down to

two methods: behavioral modification and needs based approaches (Muir, 2005).

Behavioral modification includes a variety of strategies designed to alter student

conduct, including verbal warnings, parent conferences, reduction of grades,

detention, clean up duties, after school detention, Saturday school, or ISS as discussed

(Muir, 2005).

On the other hand, needs based methods presume that students have a reason

for being late to class and take the next logical step to determine what causes delays,

and what might be done to prevent them in the future. “This approach is based on the

idea that before a school can change the behavior of at-risk students, they must

understand what is going on in those students’ lives” (Muir, 2005, p. 1). According

to Muir (2005), successful needs based strategies can include identifying chronic

offenders through individual assessment; referring them to appropriate services, such

as counseling or work programs; contacting and working with parents; and instituting

free breakfast programs. Although needs based strategies are not identical to

restorative justice concepts, they do share at least one commonality, the presumption

that students’ needs should be addressed before any punitive actions are taken to

remedy misbehavior.

California Education Code (§48260) does not delineate consequences for

students who are tardy to class unless they are 30 or more minutes late or they miss

more than 10% of instruction, in which case they are defined as “truant” rather than

tardy. School districts in California are open to devise their own policies regarding

the discipline of students who are tardy rather than truant. A random review of seven

California high school tardy policies located via basic Google search corroborated the

above findings; none were identical, though some contained similar elements, which

are summarized in Table 1 below:

Table 1

Random Survey of California High School Tardy Policies

Justification Zero
School posted on Tolerance Progressive Behavioral Needs
Name website Policy Consequences Management Based
Ceres √ √
Culver City √ √ √
Dana Hills √ √
Heritage √ √ √
Redlands √ √ √
Weed √
Westminster √ √

Three schools posted justifications of their tardy policy, while four others

explained their policies or cited California Education Code as a legal citation. For

example, Weed High School (n.d.) justifies its policy this way:

One of the goals of WHS is to prepare our students for a productive adult life.

As we all know, a vital part of adult life is holding down a job. Employers

often say that the first step is that of BEING THERE and being there ON

TIME! Our attendance and tardy rules are designed to help students develop

these skills. (para. 9)

Only one school, Westminster High School (n.d.), was found to have a zero tolerance


Interpretation of the posted tardy policies of six of the seven schools suggest

that behavioral management techniques, including those at Westminster, continue to

be the preferred pathway of high school administrators who deal with the problem of

tardiness. Five of the seven schools employ progressive systems of discipline for

students who violate tardy policies. For example, Culver City High has a progressive

policy based on behavioral management concepts. Students at Culver City High can

first expect a warning, followed by an assigned detention, and then Saturday school if

tardiness problems persist (Culver City High School, n.d.).

Only one school, Heritage, introduced elements of needs based ideas in its

tardy policies with the inclusion of required parental notification after a fourth

offense, and required counseling after the eighth offense (Heritage High School, n.d.).

Weed High School is an outlier, as its tardy policy could not adequately be described

as falling under either the behavioral management or needs based categories.

Habitually tardy students who attend Weed High School will find that the

consequences of their actions lie entirely within their individual teacher’s disciplinary

mood: “Each teacher will administer a tardy policy that is part of a student’s

participation grade in each of their classes” (Weed High School, n.d., para. 10).

Previous Studies Conducted on the Effectiveness of Tardy Policies

The purpose of this review is to investigate and share the findings of studies

regarding student tardiness and school-wide intervention efforts designed to deal with

this problem. Discussion regarding the perceptions of teachers and students on the

topic of classroom climate is included due to its connection to the problem of

tardiness. Questions related to the problem of student punctuality, school policies

designed to address tardiness and behavioral issues, as well as the importance of

positive teacher-student interactions and relationships are also explored.

Research Studies

Tyre, Feuerborn, and Pierce (2011) studied the results of action research

conducted at a Native American middle and high school between 2007–2008 in

Washington State. Under investigation were a series of policy reforms enacted by

school leaders designed to reduce student tardiness. A study team created an

intervention plan and incorporated key elements of positive behavior support (PBS)

strategies, including explicit teaching of on-time student arrival expectations; active

supervision, such as teacher monitoring of student activity in the hallways; and

consistent implementation of consequences to reduce chronic levels of student

tardiness (Tyre et al., 2011).

Fact-finding related to the tardiness problem was initiated when the vice

principal began documenting the number of tardy referrals in order to verify

anecdotal observations about the tardy problem. The results of the data collected

supported perceptions of the problem across all grade levels and instructional periods.

Administrators selected a staff development tool called Safe Transitions and Reduced

Tardies (START) to address tardiness. The START plan included guidance for the

staff regarding active supervision of students in common areas during transition

periods, clear definitions and explicit expectations for behavior during transition

periods, immediate and consistent consequences for tardiness, and data-based

decision making with respect to intervention, planning and monitoring of outcomes.

The school site council, including administrators and teachers, also gathered

qualitative data related to tardy behavior through informal discussions with students

and staff. Results from this action research suggested that student punctuality was

linked to a lack of clarity in relation to both the expectations of students’ and

teachers’ responsibilities (Tyre et al., 2011).

After investigating the causes of tardiness, the school site council developed

an intervention plan that incorporated the recommendations of the START program.

Careful collaborative planning with school maps was conducted to strategically

position teachers in transition areas for active supervision. Active supervision is a

strategy used to create a safe environment for children by training adults to efficiently

monitor locations and prevent injuries and conflict by carefully watching, counting,

and listening to students (National Center on Health [NCH], 2011). The

consequences for students’ tardy behavior ranged in severity from the writing of a

postcard with the date and time of the infraction, to afterschool detention on Friday

and a conference with parents. Student expectations were defined and taught to

students during a 3-day period. Teachers received 3 hours of training and practiced

new routines without students present (Tyre et al., 2011).

During the 3-month pre-implementation period, the average number of

students who were tardy per day was 60. After the plan was implemented, the 18-

month average decreased to 20 tardy students per day. As the new policy was

implemented, the vice principal continued to gather data. However, confounding

variables such as lack of consistent teaching of the START curriculum in every

classroom made the effectiveness of the lessons impossible to accurately assess (Tyre

et al., 2011).

Tyre et al. (2011) suggested that programs similar to START can offer

schools with student punctuality problems an intervention strategy that may prove

useful. Their study offers promising evidence that school-wide intervention efforts

that include expectations, active supervision, and enforcement of consequences when

supported and guided by staff development and administrative leadership may be

effective in reducing rates of tardiness (Tyre et al., 2011).

Colvin, Sugai, Good, and Lee (1997) conducted a study in 1996 at an

elementary school with 475 K-5 students in a rural/suburban community in a Pacific

Northwestern state. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of a

school-wide intervention consisting of pre-correction techniques, i.e., antecedent

instruction intended to prevent predictable undesirable behaviors, and active

supervision strategies such as those already discussed (Colvin et al., 1997).

Colvin et al. (1997) studied three different transitional time periods: entering

school, exiting to the cafeteria, and departing school. Baseline data regarding

problematic behaviors, such as running, pushing, shouting, hitting, and crossing

prohibited areas were collected for the three transition periods. The staff developed a

list of three expected behaviors they felt students should exhibit during transitional

times: walking rather than running, keeping hands to self, and using quiet voices

(Colvin et al., 1997). The school-wide discipline team trained all teachers to

emphasize active supervision and to use pre-correction strategies during a staff

meeting. Active supervisory examples were modeled and role-playing strategies

were used to demonstrate positive and negative examples of active supervision and

pre-correction (Colvin et al., 1997). Pre-correction strategies are antecedent actions

taken to prevent the occurrence of predictable problem behaviors from students to

prompt desired routine conduct (Newcomer, n.d.).

A multiple baseline design across three target transition settings was used to

evaluate effects of active supervision and pre-correction. A Pearson’s r was used to

make probability statements about the relationship between the number of supervisor

and student interactions and the frequency of problem behavior exhibited during

transitions. A third level of analysis included a hierarchical linear modeling

procedure to evaluate the relative contributions of active supervision and pre-

correcting in reducing the incidence of problem behavior (Colvin et al., 1997).

Colvin et al. (1997) found a significant inverse correlation (-.83, p < .05)

regarding interactions. In effect, as student interactions with adults increased, fewer

problem behaviors were exhibited. There was a significant reduction in the frequency

of problem behavior in all transition periods (Colvin et al., 1997). Significant

findings (10.63, p < .01) corresponded to the contribution of active supervision and

(12.82, p < .01) pre-correction to the reduction of problem behaviors in school

transitions (Colvin et al., 1997). Above all, Colvin et al. (1997) suggested that it is

the “activeness” of the supervision that is critical to the reduction of problem

behavior and not the number of supervisors on hand that can make a difference. In

other words, their findings suggested that the quality of teacher-student interactions

may play a more determinant role in reducing problem behavior than the quantity of

supervisors present in a given area.

Van Petegem, Aelterman, Rosseel, and Creemers (2006) conducted a study

that involved 1,701 ninth-grade students who attended a technical and vocational

school in Belgium. The purpose of their research was to examine the link between

how teachers perceive themselves and the wellbeing of their students.

Wellbeing was defined as “a positive emotional state that is the result of a

harmony between the sum of specific context factors on the one hand and personal

needs and expectations towards the school on the other hand” (Engels, Aelterman,

Van Petegem, & Schepens, 2004, p. 128). Van Petegem et al. (2006) collected data

via a 9-item questionnaire given to students, and analyzed results using confirmatory

factor analysis with Lisrel software. Various aspects related to teaching methods and

course content, discipline and participation, interpersonal relationships with teachers,

staff and administrators were questioned. Teachers were asked to complete a more

comprehensive 77-item questionnaire (Van Petegem et al., 2006).

Van Petegem et al. (2006) found a direct link between student and teacher

wellbeing. Their research data provided a 5.077 standard of error estimate in a

correlation test where the alpha was set to .77 (Van Petegem et al., 2006). Student

wellbeing increased when interpersonal teacher behavior was characterized as

leading, helpful and friendly. Results from the study indicated that students who

perceived their teachers as uncertain or dissatisfied, even when their teachers reported

otherwise to their supervisors, nevertheless expressed low wellbeing (Van Petegem et

al., 2006). The authors suggest that when ‘learning’ is the motive for attendance, as

opposed to compulsory reasons, that feelings of wellbeing increase. No variance for

wellbeing was found at the school level, suggesting that classroom interactions

influence wellbeing more than school size (Van Petegem et al., 2006).

Powell (2013) conducted research over an 8-week period at a small, private

high school in Philadelphia in order to complete a dissertation about the relationship

between tardy behavior and attendance and student persistence. Powell, referencing

studies by Light (2008) and Tyre et al. (2011), noted that tardiness has been a rapidly

growing trend in the United States since 2000. U.S. Department of Education

research on tardiness indicated a 24.9% increase in the problem between 2000 and

2006 (Light, 2008). Through his study, Powell hoped to improve understanding

about the root causes of tardiness and develop strategies to eliminate the problem

from the secondary setting (Powell, 2013).

Powell utilized a mixed methods design in which data were obtained and

triangulated from three points: student attendance records, school policies, and

external factors. Powell (2013) described external factors related to tardiness as

being constituted of five components: (a) impact of transportation, (b) social and

community atmospheres, (c) motivation or refusal to attend school, (d) parental

responsibilities, and (e) role of school policy, image and function.

Quantitative data were gathered from archived student records through its

Power School database system. A purposeful sample of 32 student records (n = 32)

was gathered from a roster of 85 in which every third record was randomly selected.

Representative groups containing specific characteristics were collected and

examined for demographic factors including attendance, age, ethnicity,

socioeconomic status, grade level, grade point average (GPA), and status of family

(Powell, 2013). Powell used a Pearson’s r to determine if a relationship existed

between tardiness and student GPA.

Powell’s (2013) research supported other studies that suggest that tardy

behavior disrupts teaching and learning, impacts overall achievement, and interferes

with personnel and school operations (Light, 2008, Tyre et al., 2011, Reid, 2007).

Powell’s key finding, validated through Pearson’s r analysis (r = .854;*p .05)

revealed a significant relationship between on time to class behavior and academic

achievement as measured by current student GPA. This led to the rejection of the

null hypothesis that there was no significant relationship between on-time attendance

and achievement (Powell, 2013).

Qualitative data were obtained with Survey Money, an open-ended

questionnaire, administered to a purposeful sample of 15 participating parents,

teachers, administrators and staff (Powell, 2013). Powell used Atlas.ti software to

synthesize and analyze interview data resulting in the identification of seven themes

as they relate to the problem of student tardiness: (a) disruption, (b) use of resources,

(c) staff time, (d) elimination of tardiness versus reduction of tardiness, (e) immediate

parental contact regarding student tardiness, (f) time management curriculum and, (g)

administrative support and consistency (Powell, 2013). Key findings among the

open-ended questionnaire results included that parents, teachers and administrators

were in agreement that tardiness represents a disruption to the classroom

environment. In addition, school staff agreed that tardiness led to an unnecessary

drain on school resources, and office staff time, and led to attitudes of disrespect.

Parents expressed concerns that more could be done to support and positively engage

students in ways that would encourage consistent punctuality, such as the

development of curriculum that included time management skills as well as more

efficient communication from the school regarding student tardy behavior (Powell,


Recommendations for improvement included the development and

implementation of a more efficient and technologically advanced tardy tracking

system, such as a software application tied into the school’s attendance system

designed to promptly contact parents by phone, text or e-mail when students are

tardy. Also suggested was the design of time management and personal development

curriculum for students with an emphasis on organizational skills, as well as

professional development for administrators, faculty and staff related to tardy policy

consistency of enforcement (Powell, 2013).


Study of student behavioral issues, school-wide intervention efforts designed

to resolve them, and student-teacher relationships should help educators to develop

new and more effective methods by which to resolve problems such as habitual

tardiness and inappropriate behavior during transition times. Steady progress in

academic and vocational achievement requires that educators maintain focus on the

importance of establishing positive relationships with students that encourages their

regular attendance, greater engagement and an overall sense of wellbeing. Chapter III

will present the methods and procedures used within this research.




The purpose of this study was to determine how tardy policy changes made at

a rural high school in the Central Valley of California reflected the use of some

restorative justice concepts in an effort to determine whether or not the alterations

made to the policy resulted in a substantive decline in the number of late arriving

students. Chapter III will describe the methodology of this study including the

sample population, treatment, instrumentation and data collection, and statistical


Sample Population

The high school selected for this study is located in the Central Valley of

California serving approximately 850 students during the 2015–2016 academic year.

The district consists of four elementary schools that feed into a single middle and the

high school that was selected for this study. The town in which the school is located

has a population of approximately 7,300 residents (U.S. Census Bureau, n.d.). The

racial makeup of students attending the high school is approximately 43% Hispanic,

52% Caucasian, 2% Asian, and less than 1% African American, American Indian,

Filipino, Pacific Islander or Hawaiian, with the balance describing themselves as

“two or more races,” or “mixed.” This Title I school serves a distinctly socio-

economically mixed rural farming community that includes low income to upper

middle-class families. Enrollment has been declining steadily since 2004–2005 when

the student population reached a high of 1,064 students (Ed-Data, 2015). Freshman

attendance records from 2011–2012 and sophomore attendance records from 2012–

2013 will be used to determine whether any significant difference in tardiness can be

detected between 1 year prior to the implementation of the more lenient tardy policy

and 1 year after implementation. Students who began attending after the first day of

school or exited before the last day during either academic school year were

eliminated from the study as were any students who were not in attendance during

both academic school years. Institutional Review Board approval for this study was

issued on February 1, 2016, Protocol #1516-084.


During the 2011–2012 academic school year students who attended the high

school were expected to obey the following tardy policy regulations described in the

student handbook:

A student that arrives to class within the first ten minutes of class time will be

considered tardy; after ten minutes it will be considered an absence that needs

to be excused or it will be counted as a cut and appropriate disciplinary action

will be taken. Five tardies in a grading period will result in an unsatisfactory

citizenship grade for the current grading period. Three additional tardies in

the next grading period will result in an unsatisfactory citizenship grade for

the semester. A student’s 3rd & 4th tardy to any individual class will result in

the assignment of a 1 hour after school detention. Tardies in excess of four in

any individual class will result in assignment of a Saturday school for each

additional tardy. Class tardies are accumulated on a semester basis and at the

beginning of the 2nd semester a student is considered to have no tardies in any

classes. Excessive unexcused tardies could result in a referral to the school

attendance board. (High School Student Handbook, n.d, p. 7)

The net effects of the policy were warnings given to students for first or

second tardy policy violations, a referral and 1 hour detention for the third or fourth

violations, and required Saturday school attendance for any tardy above and beyond a

fifth. It should be kept in mind that violations were tracked based on late arrivals

within the same class period. The issuance of unsatisfactory citizenship grades after a

fifth tardy within a grading period could impact a student’s ability to participate in

extracurricular activities depending upon overall grades and citizenship status within

a student’s remaining classes. For example, if a student had arrived late for the fifth

time to one of his class periods, in addition to serving a Saturday school for the policy

violation, he would be given an unsatisfactory mark by the class teacher that would

be used in the determination of the citizenship grade. Any combination of three F’s

and/or U’s would lead to administrative removal of extracurricular privileges.

At the beginning of the 2012–2013 academic school year, the high school

altered its tardy policy as per the following:

A student that arrives late to class within the first ten minutes of class time

will be considered tardy; after ten minutes it will be considered an absence

that needs to be excused or it will be counted as a cut and appropriate

disciplinary action will be taken. Five tardies to a single class in a grading

period will result in an unsatisfactory citizenship grade for the current grading

period. Tardies are also accumulated as a total across all class periods.

Students will receive disciplinary consequences when their accumulated total

in a semester reaches 10 tardies.

10 tardies = Detention.

12 tardies = Detention.

13+ tardies = Saturday school and eligibility review by school


Excessive unexcused tardies could result in a referral to the school

attendance board. At the beginning of the 2nd semester, a student is

considered to have no tardies in any classes. (High School, Student Handbook,

n.d., p. 7)

Examination of the policy revealed a few noteworthy changes between 2011–

2012 and 2012–2013. The altered policy eliminated the method by which teachers

had been counting student tardies toward disciplinary action and replaced it with

holistic tracking in which a student’s total number of late arrivals across all periods

were tallied together rather than counting only those that had taken place during the

same class period over a span of time. The total number of violations of the policy

without disciplinary repercussions was lifted from five within a single period to 10

across all periods before administrative action would be taken. In addition, teachers

were no longer held responsible for tracking their students’ tardy data in order to hold

them accountable for unsatisfactory citizenship marks. Instead, the office staff would

keep track of this data and inform teachers at the end of each applicable grading

period about students who had met the applicable tardy violation threshold.

Students who violated the policy in excess of the 10 tardy limit were required

to meet with the assistant principal to discuss their individual circumstances. This

mirrored at least a portion of the disciplinary process already in place for routine

teacher-generated referrals for inappropriate classroom behavior, which also

automatically resulted in a conference with the assistant principal and a notification

sent home to the parent or guardian to inform them of any policy violation. While the

California Education Code requires administrative conferences to take place in order

to provide students with the legal opportunity to hear charges laid out against them

and likewise respond with their opinion or version of events, it does not demand that

educational leaders provide counsel or guidance to students while the process unfolds,

though it might nevertheless be common sense for them to do so for the long-term

benefit of the student (California Education Code § 48900-4892).

Restorative justice methods, on the other hand, suggest that the disciplinary

process not focus on punishment and instead involve a greater degree of

communication between the violator and the person in charge of administering

discipline to incentivize desired behaviors and improve attitude. Above all, fairness

lies at the core of restorative justice ideas (Wachtel, 2012). According to Wachtel


When authorities do things with people, whether reactively—to deal with

crisis—or proactively, the results are better. The fundamental hypothesis of

restorative practices embodies fair process by asserting that people are

happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive

changes in behavior when those in authority do things with them, rather than

to them or for them. (para. 38)

To that end, the more lenient tardy policy implemented during the 2012–2013

academic school year incorporated elements of restorative justice ideas both by

altering the method by which disciplinary actions were taken, i.e., fewer single period

tardy referrals in favor of a schedule-wide accountability system, and by asking

students and administrators to engage in proactive conversations about the root causes

of the tardy behavior and how it might be eliminated for the student’s benefit.

Although the result of such conferences was likely the issuance of a consequence for

violation of the school tardy policy, student-administrator discussion of the problem

rather than a traditional bureaucratic punitive response was designed to help students

understand why their cooperation was valued within the school community.

Instrumentation and Data Collection

The instrument to collect data for student tardies was the Aeries Student

Information System (Eagle Software). Aeries was in use at the high school as its

attendance software, and was also in use during the school years in question for this

study. Aeries contained a database of all student attendance records, including an

accounting of all tardies across all periods. Tardy records for the freshman class of

2011–2012 was obtained and tabulated for the school year. Tardy records for the

sophomore class of 2012–2013 was similarly collected and counted for the year.

Statistical Analysis

Tardy data from both school years was used for statistical analysis. Data was

entered into the Statistics Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). A paired sample t-

test was used to determine if there was a significant change in tardiness rates between

2011–2012 and 2012–2013. The level of significance was set at .05.


This chapter described the sample population, and explained instrumentation,

data collection, and method of statistical analysis. Chapter IV will present the results

of the statistical analysis.





The purpose of this study was to determine whether tardy policy changes that

reflect the use of some restorative justice concepts resulted in a substantive decline in

the number of late arriving students. The study sought to examine the effectiveness

of alterations made to a school-wide tardy policy through comparison of tardy rates

among the same group of students during 2 consecutive school years: before

implementation of policy changes during the 2011–2012 academic school year and

after implementation of changes to the policy during the 2012–2013 academic school

year. This chapter will present a description of the analysis, findings, and a summary.

Description of the Analysis

The sample consisted of 163 students from the freshman 2011–2012 and

sophomore 2012–13 classes who were in attendance during the entirety of both

academic school years. Students who added after the first day of classes, or who

transferred from the school before the last day of either academic year were

eliminated from this study. Likewise, students who were not in attendance during

both academic years were excluded from this study. A paired sample t-test was used

to determine if there was a significant change in tardy rates between the academic

year prior to implementation of the policy and the year following. For this analysis,

statistical significance was set at .05.

Findings of the Null Hypothesis

There is no significant change in tardiness rates between freshmen 1 year prior

to the implementation of a more lenient tardy policy and the same students as

sophomores 1 year after the implementation of a more lenient tardy policy.

The results of a paired sample t-test showed no significant change in tardiness

rates among students after the implementation of the revised policy. The number of

student tardies did not significantly increase or decrease; hence the null hypothesis

was accepted (see Table 2).

Table 2

Paired Sample T-Test: Tardies Before (2011–2012) and After (2012–2013)

Implementation of Policy Changes

Group n M SD t p

Former policy (2011–2012) 163 11.85 12.179 1.349 .179

New policy (2012–2013) 163 10.76 8.067


Chapter IV presented the statistical analysis of data to determine the

effectiveness of revisions made to a school-wide tardy policy at a high school in the

Central Valley of California. Chapter V will present a summary, conclusions,

implications and recommendations for further study.





The purpose of this study was to determine whether tardy policy revisions that

reflected the use of some restorative justice concepts resulted in a substantive decline

in the number of late arriving students. This study sought to determine the

effectiveness of changes made to a high school’s tardy policy between the 2011–2012

and the 2012–2013 academic school years by comparing a group of students who

experienced both older and newer policies.

The study used quantitative data from the Aeries Student Information System

(Eagle Software), the school’s attendance tracking system. This chapter will present

a summary of the results, conclusions, implications, and recommendations for further



Light (2008) addressed the issue of increased student tardiness within

American schools and the resulting allocation of school time and resources required

to mitigate its unwanted effects. Likewise, Powell (2013) studied the negative impact

of tardiness on student academic performance in addition to the resulting drain on

school resources evidenced by the time used by school staff to address individual

student infractions of tardy policy. Students who consistently or routinely miss the

beginning of instruction are more likely to suffer from lower grades and must also

deal with the disciplinary consequences of their tardy behavior, such as serving

detention after school, attending school on a Saturday, or in school suspension from

their normal class schedules, all which require additional staff time and come with a

monetary cost.

The introduction of restorative justice concepts within some schools’

disciplinary policies came about as a reaction to the ineffective and damaging use of

zero tolerance policies viewed at one time as a solution to various student discipline

issues. Restorative justice, while originating within the criminal justice system, was

adapted to education to address problem behaviors among students. Educators who

have embraced restorative justice concepts expect students who have transgressed

school policies to engage in dialog about their behavior. This allows transgressors

freedom to express their point of view, and explain the specific circumstances

regarding individual infraction of policy. An administrator who must enforce

discipline and correct behavior is encouraged to listen and respond to student

concerns before rendering disciplinary action. Restorative justice is based on a

framework of discussion, understanding and remedying underlying problems rather

than focusing upon punishment as means of correction (Wachtel, 2013).

Chapter I introduced the topic of changes to American public school

accountability during the past half century. The focus of federal education reform

efforts in the 1960s was equality of access and aid for the impoverished. Poor

academic progress revealed by a government sponsored study of academic

achievement in 1983 (A Nation at Risk) led to waves of change during the following

two decades, including adoption of statewide testing standards, No Child Left Behind

(NCLB), Race to the Top, and Common Core. Chapter II discussed the history of

changes to student discipline that have occurred in schools in parallel to academic

reform efforts. The use of zero tolerance policies first seen in the 1980s was followed

by experimentation with concepts like restorative justice to address both student

discipline and academic achievement at once. Chapter III described the methodology

and statistical analysis used within this study, while Chapter IV presented the results

and findings of the hypothesis.


A paired sampled t-test was used to determine the effects of a high school’s

revised tardy policy among a group of 163 students during the course of one

academic year. This researcher entered the number of individual tardies for each

student selected for this study for each of 2 academic school years into the Statistical

Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and set the alpha level at .05. The results of

the statistical analysis showed no significant change in the tardy rate among the group

when comparing the academic school year prior to the subsequent year when the

revised policy was implemented. The findings of this study suggest that the changes

made to the school-wide tardy policy did not significantly reduce the number of

tardies among the population of selected students.


This study analyzed the tardy rates among the same group of students during

two consecutive academic school years to determine the effectiveness of a revised

tardy policy. While the results of the statistical analysis revealed a slight decrease in

the student tardiness rate between 2011–2012 and 2012–2013, the lack of significant

change (p = .179) is demonstrative of policy alterations that did not have the desired

or intended effect. It is important to consider what may have led to this result.

The changes made to the tardy policy came about in an effort both to reduce

student tardiness and streamline disciplinary procedures. While the more lenient

tardy policy implemented in 2012–2013 may be seen through the lens of a restorative

justice framework, the use of some restorative justice concepts to curtail student

tardiness, such as administrator-student discussions about underlying reasons for

tardy behavior and a de-emphasis on punishment, did not seem to be the focus of the

policy alteration. The Aeries Student Information System eliminated the burden of

tracking student tardies from teachers and re-directed it into the hands of office staff,

thus saving faculty time in discipline-related paperwork. However, students who

faced the consequences of breaking the new policy continued to be processed by

office staff and administrators who relied upon established punishments such as

detention and Saturday school as the deterrent by which to generate appropriate

behavior. If a restorative justice framework emphasizes discussion of unwanted

behavior and focuses on students’ improvement vis-à-vis their willingness and

freedom to discuss their problems, it can be argued that administrator-student

discussions were not having the desired impact. Faculty and administration

benefitted from the creation of a more efficient process, but students were, in effect,

still experiencing the same consequences for transgressing policies without the

learning opportunities that were supposed to come about from a restorative justice


The content of numerous individual student-administrator conversations

cannot be measured here, nor can the perception of students who experienced the

changes. However, it is easily possible to suppose that the nature of conversations

held between students who faced disciplinary action and administrators tasked with

enforcing expected student conduct were inconsistent with regard to an emphasis

within a restorative justice framework. Given the nature of administrative work, in

effect the inconsistent nature of the challenges and day-to-day responsibilities that

administrators face from innumerable sources, it is not inconceivable to suggest that

efficient processing of student disciplinary issues was favored over a more time

consuming and involved restorative justice model.

The school in question has one assistant principal who is generally in charge

of student discipline. The likelihood that students called out of class and lined up

outside of the assistant principal’s door would briefly be asked why they were tardy,

asked to fill out required paperwork attesting to their undesirable behavior, and then

given the specified punishment and date of service for the infraction is more likely to

have occurred than not. In effect, the changes made to the tardy policy were designed

to streamline the process of handling students, and reduce teacher paperwork rather

than focus on limited restorative justice elements infused into the pre-existing system.

Considering that restorative justice is not a set program, but more akin to a

philosophy about behavioral improvement, modification of the pre-existing system

that already required student-administrator conversation, i.e., acknowledgement by

the students of their infraction and thus the reason for assigned punishment, likely

gave little room for conversations to be altered from pre-established norms. If the

administrator tasked with enforcing the new policy did not embrace or fully

understand the concept of restorative justice, or was inconsistent with the

employment of restorative justice concepts, any benefits incorporated into the new

policy would likely have been mitigated.

Improvements to student behavior and academic success have been shown to

occur when educators have a direct stake in the growth of students under their care.

Research conducted by Colvin et al. (1997), suggested the importance of student-

teacher interactions in reducing unwanted behavior. Action Research conducted by

Tyre et al. (2011), suggested a likewise correlation. Both studies involved

participation from teachers as well as specific training and discussion of goals to

address student behavioral problems.

While efficiency is praiseworthy, it cannot be an end unto itself without at

least some attempt to take into consideration the multitude of variables that impact

human behavior and well being. In this instance, a school’s tardy policy was altered

and no significant reduction in the rate of student tardiness took place.

Administrators, teachers and parents should therefore ask whether or not the policy,

still in effect, should be altered in order to incentivize on-time attendance. According

to Burke (2013), a key component of restorative justice is problem solving, both from

the point of view of the school and perhaps as importantly from the perspective of the

transgressor. Is the newer policy achieving the desired level of efficiency that was

originally sought when the revisions were made? If efficiency standards have been

met with regard to the processing of student paperwork and assigning of

consequences, does the new policy need to be reexamined to address the lack of

significant change to student tardiness? Do all stakeholders continue to believe that

the new policy, given its lack of effectiveness at significantly reducing student

tardiness, should be left in place?

According to Van Petegem et al. (2006), students’ perceptions of their own

well being increased when interactions between themselves and educators were

perceived to be friendly and helpful. This speaks directly to the efficacy of the

restorative justice framework in giving students a voice and a stake in the process by

which they are asked to alter undesirable behaviors for their academic success.

Schachter (2010) noted that restorative justice, when used to provide students with

learning opportunities and focus on personal improvement and positive long-term

impact from an otherwise negative situation created the basis for desired results, a

decrease in unwanted behaviors.

Have student-teacher conversations about tardy behavior been reduced since

the revision to the policy? Given the day-to-day interaction between students and

teachers, if the effort to generate greater efficiency resulted in a decrease in the efforts

of teachers to directly address tardy behavior, it can be assumed that any positive

effect had by such conversations was also likewise reduced. These are relevant and

important questions to consider given that further improvements to both on-time

attendance and student achievement are highly desirable outcomes of any future

school policy reforms.

Recommendations for Further Research

Further research on this subject may include:

1. Conduct a qualitative analysis of the perceptions of students and teachers

regarding their school’s tardy policy and its effectiveness.

2. Conduct a quantitative analysis of the tardy data since 2012–2013 to

determine long-term effectiveness of the newer policy.

3. Conduct a review of existing research on the effectiveness of restorative

justice as applied to high school discipline policies.

4. Conduct a qualitative study to identify effective approaches to the

implementation of restorative practices.





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