A major study showed that when restorative justice policies are properly implemented, it does reduce student suspensions but also results in lowers test scores for Black students. The study was done for the Pittsburgh public schools, a medium sized urban city, between 2015-17 and found that middle schools showed a worsening of academic outcomes when restorative justice practices were implemented. The key findings from the study are as follows:
Effects of the Pursuing Equitable and Restorative Communities (PERC) program in Pittsburgh Public Schools
- Implementation of restorative practices through PERC improved overall school climates, as rated by teachers.
- Implementation of restorative practices reduced the average suspension rate: During the study period, average suspension rates decreased in both PERC and non-PERC schools, but rates decreased more in PERC schools.
- Suspension rates of African American students and of those from low-income families also went down in PERC schools, shrinking the disparities in suspension rates between African American and white students and between low- and higher-income students.
- Academic outcomes did not improve in PERC schools, and actually worsened for grades 6–8.
- Arrest rates among PERC schools did not decrease.
Does restorative justice work? Yes. if the main goal is to reduce suspensions, especially,, when it comes to Black and low income students. However, when it comes to improved academic outcomes, restorative justice polices have no impact and actually has a negative academic impact for middle schools and Black students.
Chalkbeat summarizes the report Here.