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Classroom Management and Discipline
September 2018


What does the research say about effective strategies for classroom management and discipline?

Ask A REL Response

Thank you for your request to our Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Reference Desk. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the 10 RELs that, by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. Ask A REL provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations in response to questions about available education research.

Following an established REL Northwest research protocol, we conducted a search for evidence- based research. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, Google Scholar, and general Internet search engines. For more details, please see the methods section at the end of this document.

The research team has not evaluated the quality of the references and resources provided in this response; we offer them only for your reference. The search included the most commonly used research databases and search engines to produce the references presented here. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The research references are not necessarily comprehensive and other relevant research references may exist. In addition to evidence-based, peer-reviewed research references, we have also included other resources that you may find useful. We provide only publicly available resources, unless there is a lack of such resources or an article is considered seminal in the topic area.


Epstein, M., Atkins, M., Cullinan, D., Kutash, K., & Weaver, R. (2008). Reducing behavior problems in the elementary school classroom (IES Practice Guide, NCEE 2008-012). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, What Works Clearinghouse.

From the Abstract:
"This guide offers prevention, implementation, and school-wide strategies that can be used to reduce problematic behavior that interferes with the ability of students to attend to and engage fully in instructional activities. Although this report addresses elementary school classrooms, many of the strategies can be used with middle and high school students."

Korpershoek, H., Harms, T., de Boer, H., van Kuijk, M., & Doolaard, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management strategies and classroom management programs on students' academic, behavioral, emotional, and motivational outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 86(3), 643–680. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This meta-analysis examined which classroom management strategies and programs enhanced students' academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and motivational outcomes in primary education… Focusing on the students' social-emotional development appeared to have the largest contribution to the interventions' effectiveness, in particular on the social-emotional outcomes. Moreover, we found a tentative result that students' academic outcomes benefitted from teacher-focused programs."

Larson, K. E., Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., Rosenberg, M. S., & Day-Vines, N. L. (2018). Examining how proactive management and culturally responsive teaching relate to student behavior: Implications for measurement and practice. School Psychology Review, 47(2), 153–166.

From the Abstract:
"The discipline gap between White students and African American students has increased demand for teacher training in culturally responsive and behavior management practices. Extant research, however, is inconclusive about how culturally responsive teaching practices relate to student behavior or how to assess using such practices in the classroom. Identifying proactive behavior management and culturally responsive teaching practices that are associated with positive student behavior may inform teacher training and bolster efforts to reduce disparities in behavioral and academic performance. The current study examined the association between student behaviors and the observed use of and teacher self-reported efficacy in using culturally responsive teaching and proactive behavior management practices."

Oliver, R. M., Wehby J. H., & Reschly, D. J. (2011). Teacher classroom management practices: Effects on disruptive or aggressive student behavior (Campbell Systematic Reviews No. 2011:4). Oslo, Norway: Campbell Collaboration. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"This review examines the effects of teachers' universal classroom management practices in reducing disruptive, aggressive, and inappropriate behaviors. The specific research questions addressed are: Do teachers' universal classroom management practices reduce problem behavior in classrooms with students in kindergarten through 12th grade? What components make up the most effective and efficient classroom management programs? Do differences in effectiveness exist between grade levels? Do differences in classroom management components exist between grade levels? Does treatment fidelity affect the outcomes observed? These questions were addressed through a systematic review of the classroom management literature and a meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management on disruptive or aggressive student behavior."

Parsonson, B. S. (2012). Evidence-based classroom behaviour management strategies. Kairaranga, 13(1), 16–23.

From the Abstract:
"This paper reviews a range of evidence-based strategies for application by teachers to reduce disruptive and challenging behaviors in their classrooms. These include a number of antecedent strategies intended to help minimize the emergence of problematic behaviors and a range of those which provide positive consequences for appropriate student behaviors."

Riden, B. S., Taylor, J. C., Lee, D. L., & Scheeler, M. C. (2018). A synthesis of the daily behavior report card literature from 2007 to 2017. Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship, 7(1).

From the Abstract:
"Daily behavior report cards (DBRCs) have shown to be effective in addressing academic and behavioral challenges for a variety of students in past literature. The purpose of this literature review and analysis is to update and summarize findings on the use of DBRCs on academic and social behavior for students considered to have disruptive behaviors or identified with disabilities."

Simonsen, B., Fairbanks, S., Briesch, A., Myers, D., & Sugai, G. (2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education & Treatment of Children, 31(3), 351–380. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"Classroom management is a critical skill area. Teachers should be trained and supported in implementing practices that are likely to be successful; that is, practices that are backed by evidence. The purpose of this paper is to describe the outcomes of a systematic literature search conducted to identify evidence-based classroom management practices. Although the need for additional research exists, 20 practices, in general, were identified as having sufficient evidence to be considered for classroom adoption."

Simonsen, B., Freeman, J., Goodman, S., Mitchell, B., Swain-Bradway, J. Flannery, B. et al. (2015). Supporting and responding to behavior: Evidence-based strategies for teachers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Retrieved from

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this document is to summarize evidence-based, positive, proactive, and responsive classroom behavior intervention and support strategies for teachers. These strategies should be used classroom-wide, intensified to support small group instruction, or amplified further for individual students. These tools can help teachers capitalize on instructional time and decrease disruptions, which is crucial as schools are held to greater academic and social accountability measures for all students."

Tobin, T. J., & Sugai, G. (2005). Preventing problem behaviors: Primary, secondary, and tertiary level prevention interventions for young children. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 2(3), 125–144.

From the Abstract:
"The purpose of this report is to compare changes in social skills, problem behaviors, and academic competence for kindergarten or first-grade students identified as being at risk for serious behavior problems who received primary, secondary, or tertiary level preventive interventions."


Keywords and Search Strings: The following keywords, subject headings, and search strings were used to search reference databases and other sources: Classroom management, Discipline, Social behavioral, Research OR Evidence, Strategies OR Practices, Review OR Synthesis, Effective

Databases and Resources: We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and EBSCO databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Research Complete, and Professional Development Collection).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of publications: This search and review included references and resources published in the last 10 years.

Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority was given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, as well as academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, and Google Scholar.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references:

  • Study types: randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, and policy briefs, generally in this order
  • Target population and samples: representativeness of the target population, sample size, and whether participants volunteered or were randomly selected
  • Study duration
  • Limitations and generalizability of the findings and conclusions

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest. It was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by REL Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.