​​​​​​​​The October Catch: Research's Crystal Ball

Office Discipline Referral (ODR) data is one piece in a school’s decision-making puzzle. Not only does reviewing referral patterns give you and your school team a picture of what’s happening school-wide, it also gives you another way to identify students in your building who could benefit from targeted supports​.1,2 Using ODR data this way in October – as a screening tool – is something we like to call The October Catch.

Take a look at last year’s Referrals by Student graph in SWIS. Specifically, look at the number of students with 6 or more referrals. What if you knew there was something you could have done in October to interrupt their referral pattern and change their trajectory for the year? The number of ODRs students receive by the end of October is a good predictor for the number of referrals they’re likely to receive by the end of the year. In fact, research shows 50% of students who had 6 or more total ODRs during the course of the year already had 2 or more ODRs by the end of October; 79% had 2 or more ODRs by the end of December.3 See Figure 1.

You may already have processes in place to refer students for additional supports: teacher referral, even ODR counts. This research suggests you have the ability, right now, to identify and refer some students well before they have the time to accumulate 4, 5, 6 or more referrals. As you generate the SWIS Referrals by Student report this October, pay close attention to the students in your building with 2 or more referrals. 
  • What you know about each student? 
  • Do you have additional screening data available to you? 
  • What are the targeted supports available in your building?
  • Which of the students in this report would benefit from enrollment in a targeted intervention?
In November and December, generate the Referrals by Student report, again. This time, check to see if there are new students with more than 2 referrals. Remember, 79% of students who ended the year with 6 or more referrals had at least 2 referrals by the end of December. Be sure you also check in on the students you referred for targeted supports: 
  • How has their referral trajectory changed or not? 
  • If your school has a Check-In Check-Out program, were any students enrolled in October? 
  • What do their data in CICO-SWIS tell you?
  • Is there additional support needed? 
As a team, you have multiple resources informing the decisions you make. The October Catch is one way to use the ODR data you collect to predict sooner which of your students would benefit from additional supports.

1. Tobin, T. J., Sugai, G., & Colvin, G. (1996). Patterns in middle school discipline records. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 4, 82-94  
2. Tobin, T. J., & Sugai, G. M. (1999) Using sixth-grade school records to predict school violence, chronic discipline problems, and high school outcomes. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 7, 40-53  
3. McIntosh, K., Frank, J. L., & Spaulding, S. A. (2010). Establishing research-based trajectories of office discipline referrals for individual student. School Psychology Review, 39, 380-394.​​​​​​​​​​​​​