A film that explores how a Walla Walla school uses a "trauma-informed" approach to discipline will be shown this Saturday at Foster High in Tukwila.

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The conversation about discipline in Washington state schools is starting to change.

Instead of suspension and expulsions, educators and advocates have begun to talk about ways to prevent misbehavior by working to understand the root causes for students’ misbehavior in the classroom.

Education Lab’s Claudia Rowe wrote about this trend earlier this year, along with other ways that school districts are working to deal with discipline without throwing kids out of school.

The trend is based on research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente. Their ongoing study, called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, looks at how traumatic events impact a young person’s social development and behavior.

A high school senior, featured in the story, discussed his perspective on how discipline practices should change. “I thank God for the teachers and staff who took their time to know and understand me as a person and learn what was going on in my life outside of school,” he said. “If they never interceded into my life, I guarantee I would not be graduating from high school.”

If you want to learn more, we are hosting a screening this Saturday of a documentary film called Paper Tigers, which looks at a high school in Walla Walla that has taken a “trauma-informed approach” to discipline– one that views misbehavior not as a personal attack but as a signal of the adverse impacts of traumatic experiences. (You can RSVP to the event here.)

•    A recording of a panel discussion with the filmmaker and a student from the film
•    The Union-Bulletin’s article on the retirement of the school’s principal Jim Sporleder
•    ACESTooHigh is a news site that reports on research about adverse childhood experiences

Still curious about what constitutes “traumatic” events for a young person? Take this quiz, developed by the ACE researchers, to determine your ACE score. The higher the score, the more likely your experiences have resulted in negative consequences in your life.

An ACE survey that involved people in 18 states found nearly two-thirds of participants had a score of at least 1. Nearly 13 percent of respondents reported scores of 4 or higher.