To enhance and ensure school safety, educators across the country are using a combination of policy and security technology to protect students, staff and visitors alike, according to a national survey.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has data for the 2013-2014 school year on what measures public schools had put in place to improve safety. For each measure, an overall percentage is available, as well as breakdowns by primary schools, middle schools or combined primary and secondary schools.
According to the NCES, here are eight things educators are doing to improve school safety.
1. Locking or Monitoring Doors and Gates
Overall, 93 percent of public schools reported to the NCES that they controlled access to their buildings by locking or monitoring doors during school hours, making it the most popular safety practice. Locking and monitoring was slightly more prevalent in middle schools (94.9 percent) than primary (88.8 percent) and high schools/combined (94.5 percent).
2. Security Cameras
Seventy-five percent of public schools reported using security cameras to monitor their property, with high schools/combined using them more, at 89.2 percent, compared with 83.7 percent for middle schools and 67.2 percent for primary.
3. Faculty and Staff Required to Wear Badges or Picture IDs
In all, 68 percent of schools reported requiring teachers and other staff to wear badges or photos that identify them on their campuses, with primary schools leading the way with 72.8 percent, followed by middle schools (68.5 percent) and high school/combined (54.4 percent).
4. Strict Dress Code
A strict dress code was enforced at 58 percent of all public schools. The breakdown was 70.5 percent of all middle schools, 63.8 percent of high schools and 52.6 percent of primary schools.
5. Random Dog Sniffs to Check For Drugs
Drug-sniffing dogs were employed at 24 percent of public schools overall. The practice had the largest gap of any of the eight safety measures between primary schools (5.5 percent), middle schools (44.2 percent) and high schools (57 percent).
6. Students Required to Wear Uniforms
Uniforms aren’t just for private schools anymore, according to the survey, with 20 percent of public schools requiring them. Primary schools led the way (22.7 percent), followed by middle schools (19.7 percent) and high schools/combined (14.8 percent).
7. Students Required to Wear Badges or Picture IDs
A requirement for students to wear badges or picture IDs was in place at 9 percent of all schools. Use of the practice was nearly even for middle schools (16 percent) and high school/combined (15.6 percent) and far less common in primary schools (4.1 percent).
8. Random Metal Detector Checks
Just 4 percent of schools reported that they used random metal detector checks. The use was most common in high school/combined (8.7 percent) and least common in primary schools (1.4 percent).
The NCES uses the following definitions for school types:
- Primary schools: the lowest grade isn’t higher than grade 3 and the highest grade isn’t higher than grade 8.
- Middle schools: the lowest grade is not lower than grade 4 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 9.
- High schools: the lowest grade is not lower than grade 9 and the highest grade is not higher than grade 12. Combined schools include all other combinations of grades, including K–12 schools.