This research-to-practice brief explores the relatively recent expansion of the use of restorative practices in American schools as an alternative to zero-tolerance and other removal-focused responses to student behavioral issues. It is not an in-depth comparison between restorative and traditional processes. Instead, the brief focuses on the results, thus far, of the approach’s transition into the school realm, the implementation outcomes, and a model for augmenting restorative discipline responses with behavioral health supports. 

While variations in implementation and evaluation do not currently enable in-depth comment on the differential effectiveness of restorative practices across infraction types and demographic factors, schools using or considering restorative practices should also consider the following suggestions: 

  • To augment the use of restorative practices, create or expand student access to a robust behavioral health service and support system by using in-school resources or referral partnerships with community-based providers. 
  • Review and revise, as necessary, local, and state school discipline policies and protocols that work at cross-purposes with the integration and implementation of restorative and school responder approaches. 
  • Offer staff meaningful and consistent training and support regarding restorative practices as well as adolescent development and mental health and race- and ability-conscious approaches to school discipline. 

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.  

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email 

This resource was first shared in 2014. 

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