Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
PI: MELISSA DEROSIER; SARAH LINDSTROM-JOHNSON
TERM: 09/20 – 09/21
Demand for effective tools to ensure students are safe at school has increased as a result of high-profile school shootings and a greater awareness of violence on school grounds. Current research underscores the importance of school climate as an essential protective factor against violence. A positive school climate fosters student engagement, academic performance, and mental health. Further, when school climate improves, suspensions, office referrals, and violent and aggressive behaviors among students decrease. The goal of this SBIR is to develop and test the School Assessment for Environmental Typography (SAfETy) software product for schools and school districts. We will build on our team’s empirically validated school climate assessment instrument to create a digital interactive tool that can be easily integrated with typical administrative ‘walkthrough’ procedures. SAfETy will streamline collection of observations of the school’s physical and social environment, implement algorithms to deliver data-driven climate improvement suggestions, and facilitate creation and monitoring of corrective action plans to address climate concerns. In Phase I, we will create a software prototype and conduct user-centered tests with target end users (e.g., school administrators) to determine feasibility of the proposed SAfETy product. Phase I quantitative and qualitative data will be used to inform the Phase II R&D plan. The end result will be a rigorously tested new digital solution to help school personnel improve school climate and safety and address a legal requirement for reporting that schools currently have but for which few tools exist. The proposed SAfETy product will also address a significant public health need for feasible and effective tools to improve school safety and will offer an innovative scalable technology solution to the substantial school district market of more than 132,000 independent governing agencies.