Through PASSAGE (Positive and Safe Schools Advancing Greater Equity), AISR has supported districts and communities working together to reduce discipline disparities and promote positive approaches to school discipline. In the first stage of the PASSAGE initiative, funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies supported work in four major urban school districts – New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Beginning in 2016, PASSAGE is focusing this work in Nashville, with support from the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Follow us on Twitter @PassageNash

Blog post

PASSAGE Nashville and the MNPS Student-Parent Handbook (4/27/17)
A steering committee member of AISR's PASSAGE initiative describes how they transformed the Nashville school district's code of conduct to reduce discipline disparities.

Current work

As a result of Nashville’s promising work toward implementing a community and district collaboration model in PASSAGE’s first phase, in 2016 Nashville was invited to participate in the next stage of PASSAGE, with Metro Nashville Public Schools as its district partner and the Oasis Center, a Nashville nonprofit that helps vulnerable youth overcome barriers through wraparound services, as PASSAGE's core community partner.

Current PASSAGE work in Nashville will support:

  • ongoing coalition building among a wide range of stakeholders, including principals, parents, teachers, counselors, law enforcement officers, clergy, juvenile judges, community leaders, researchers, and local government officials; and

  • training for these groups to critically examine the structures, policies, and practices that perpetuate discipline disparities and contribute to negative school climate and culture.

A steering committee and five working groups comprised of these stakeholders have met for two years. The new initiative will also support practices that build teacher capacity and collaboration in order to examine persistent discipline disparities at the school level, implement interventions that create supportive classrooms and school climate, and develop procedures for collecting and tracking relevant data to measure progress over time.

Media coverage

National school discipline data expert highlights Metro Schools’ progress
Metro Nashville Public Schools 3/5/17

Nashville's effort to cut student suspensions recognized by national expert
The Tennessean 2/21/17

Highs, lows a part of Nashville schools' discipline initiative
The Tennessean 11/4/16

Tennessee students more likely to be suspended if they’re black boys — or live in Memphis
Chalkbeat Tennessee 10/25/16

Metro Schools Work To Close The Discipline Gap
Channel 5, Nashville 10/13/16

Annenberg Institute Awarded $250,000 Schott Foundation Grant for Phase II Effort to End Discipine Disparities in Nashville Public Schools
AISR News 10/6/16


1-pager: About PASSAGE in Nashville 

PASSAGE Logic Model, developed by the Oasis Center

Voices in Urban Education No. 42: Creating Safe Passage: Collaborative Approaches to Equitable School Discipline Reform

VUE 42 article: Breaking the Cycle of Inequitable School Discipline through Community and Civic Collaboration in Nashville


The Handbook: Student & Parent Rights & Responsibilities, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Metro Nashville Public Schools is taking a look at why African American students are disporportionately subject to much harsher penalties when it comes to discipline. (FROM: WTVF-NASHVILLE, TN) In Breaking the Cycle of Inequitable School Discipline through Community and Civic Collaboration in Nashville, by Tony Majors & Tom Ward in Voices in Urban Education No. 42, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

History of the project

In 2014, AISR implemented an action and learning network in four major urban school districts – New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville – focusing on reducing discipline disparities, promoting positive approaches to school discipline, and transforming school climate and culture. AISR supported district leadership and community partners in establishing a shared table at which they could collaboratively examine the data, programs, policies, and practices that contribute to discipline disparities and design and implement interventions to address the issues and create a more positive, not punitive, school climate.

The major goals were:

  • Build district and community stakeholder capacity to work together to understand and reduce identity-based disparities in school discipline using comprehensive, jointly developed policy, practices, and programmatic tools.

  • Support, document, and analyze the work in these sites to advance understanding of models and interventions such as Social Emotional Learning, Restorative Practices, and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and their potential to impact the disparate and excessive use of exclusionary discipline practices.

  • Create learning opportunities to share promising practices and partnerships with districts, communities, and policymakers across the four sites and in other locations throughout the country.

  • Broker tools, resources, and supports for participating sites that can be used by them, as well as by other interested community groups and districts.


Alethea Frazier Raynor