Skip to main content

TIG will be updating the self-advocacy suite.  Please note the resources may be discontinued after the 2023-2024 academic year.

Appleton West High School

Grade Level
High School

Understanding the impact of changes in adult practices

In 2010, Appleton West High School’s leadership team knew that staff buy-in would be critical to building a more positive school culture. The team decided to use the Self Assessment Survey to identify staff perceptions about how well they thought their system was working and then use these results for action planning. The results showed that staff policies and practices needed to be put in place that would unify efforts, empower adults to cultivate a consistent environment, and build relationships with students.

The use of restorative practices has transformed the way that staff handle suspensions and office disciplinary referrals. Put into effect during the 2014-15 school year, these techniques gave teachers the opportunity to teach rather than punish, according to Principal Greg Hartjes.

Instead of removing students from the classroom, staff are able to work with students to reflect on the misguided behavior, brainstorm ways to correct it, and write a letter of apology, including the behavior correction technique. This has led to sharp decreases in suspensions.

Appleton West also saw a 37% drop in office disciplinary referrals between 2014-15 and 2015-16! This reduction alone means 22 more days in the classroom.

Passing Results

One result linked to keeping students in the classroom was the increase in the number of students with passing grades. Principal Hartjes noted that in 2014-15 they had the highest percentage of students passing classes with a 95% pass rate.


This equates to a 26% drop in classes failed in one school year. It took hard work and dedication for staff to reframe their approach to discipline practices, but their efforts have certainly paid off.