Archived Information

Tools for Schools - April 1998

Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline

What Is It?

Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline (CMCD) is a research-based, classroom and school reform model that builds on shared responsibility for learning and classroom organization between teachers and students. The program works with geographic feeder systems of schools from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade that includes all students, teachers and administrators in one geographic area of the city. The program provides sustained messages to children about what it means to be self-disciplined. Messages that are changed every year or are inconsistent for every classroom diminish discipline and achievement.

Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline also provides a sustainable message for all who work with children: administrators, teachers, specialists, aides, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. The project provides support to educational professionals and staff over a 3-year period through staff development, school-based facilitators, and ongoing research data on student and teacher perspectives of school climate and discipline referrals to the office (which is provided to the schools throughout the year). The teacher is able to create a consistent but flexible learning environment and joins with the students in establishing a cooperative plan for classroom rules, procedures, use of time, and academic learning that governs the classroom, all within a developing democratic structure. Classrooms and schools are usually the last place one finds democratic principles, but they should be the first.

The Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline philosophy incorporates five themes in order to build resilience with inner-city youth:

Each theme includes strategies and activities that allow students to become real partners in the classroom.

The definition for the Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program is evolving. It is being expanded by those most closely influenced by the program teachers, students, administrators and parents. This evolution is also being shaped by longitudinal research studies of classroom environments, discipline and learning.

Why Did It Get Started?

The program was first implemented in 1986-1987 at the invitation of the Houston Independent School District and the faculty and administration of five elementary schools identified as the lowest academic performing schools in Texas. The faculty and administration identified classroom management as the greatest barrier to school improvement and the academic success of their children. Research that began during this time period was extended when the Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program was asked to participate in the National Center on Education In The Inner Cities. During the last 4 years, the program has expanded to middle and high school levels, providing support for entire geographic feeder patterns of schools in the inner cities. Currently, the Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program is in feeder patterns of schools in Houston, Chicago, Norfolk and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

How Does It Work?

The Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline Project seeks to turn student "tourists" into student "citizens' by helping educators create active classrooms where cooperation, participation, and support are the cornerstones. As students move from one grade level to the next and from one school to the next (elementary, middle and high school), they continue to experience expanding opportunities for active participation in the management of their classrooms and schools.

As the name suggests, Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline has two distinct components.

Consistency Management focuses on classroom and instructional organization and planning by the teacher. From seating arrangements to passing out papers, sharpening pencils, attendance taking, using time, and providing equal opportunity to participate in class, the teacher, as the instructional leader, creates a supportive and caring environment in which all members can participate and learn.
Cooperative Discipline expands the leadership roles in the classroom from the teacher to the students. It gives all students the opportunity to become leaders. Given multiple chances for leadership in small and large ways, students gain the experiences necessary to become self- disciplined. Students are partners and stakeholders in the classroom, from creating a classroom constitution to establishing new job responsibilities for some fifty tasks that teachers usually take upon themselves.

The staff development program is timed to match the needs of teachers and students. The first Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline session is held in the Spring, with an all-day workshop and a follow-up in May. This is timed when the need for caring and peaceful learning environments are at a premium. A second 2-day workshop is provided before school begins in August; four 3-hour workshops are held approximately once every 2 months after school from September until March. Thirty-six contact hours of faculty and principal development are provided to each Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program school.

During the second year, an all-day before-school workshop is provided to the original cohort of teachers, and a second set of four staff development sessions are presented in year 2 for teachers new to the schools. High-implementing teachers also become Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline facilitators for the school and are responsible for keeping the knowledge base of the program at the classroom and school level. Sessions for the new teachers include training on the development of classroom rules and procedures, effective use of instructional time, student motivation, teacher self-assessments and peer observations, school management, community and parental involvement, and faculty-administrator team building.

What Are The Costs?

Costs vary based on the size of the school and the number of students. The planning year is a 6-month period that begins in January and ends in July. The cost for planning the initial implementation period is about 1 to 2 percent of the school budget. The planning year also includes two implementation workshops. The second and third years reflect full implementation and require a full-time Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline facilitator for every three elementary schools and one facilitator for each secondary school. The costs for the second and third years are 3 to 5 percent of the total school budget.

How Is The Model Implemented In A School?

The school district and feeder schools are provided an overview of the program. The first year the program is implemented at the elementary school level, with years 2 and 3 beginning with the middle and high schools, respectively. Each level has 3 years of support from the program. At least 70 percent affirmative vote of the professional staff is needed before the program may begin in a school.

What Is The Evidence That The Model Is Successful?

The Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program has been replicated in controlled studies over time. The findings from both qualitative and quantitative studies show a strong positive change in many of the outcomes viewed as desirable for reforming schools and transforming classrooms including: sustained gains in student achievement over 3 years (three-fourths year to one full year greater achievement gain over a group of comparison schools); significant reductions in student discipline referrals to the office (48 percent to 80 percent fewer than in previous years); more teaching time, with an evaluator reporting teachers are gaining 36 more minutes of teaching time each day due to fewer discipline problems and greater student cooperation. This is the equivalent of 3½ additional weeks of instruction. Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline has undergone extensive research on its initial and long-term effectiveness. When students and teachers see each other as partners, the instructional climate (teaching and learning) improves for both teachers and students.

Where Can I See It?

The Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program can be seen in 20 schools in Houston, Texas. Several of the schools have a 4- to 6-year record of implementation. Other schools in Chicago, Norfolk, and Amsterdam may also be viewed but are earlier in the implementation cycle.

Whom Do I Contact?

H. Jerome Freiberg, Project Director
Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline
College of Education, University of Houston
Houston, Texas 77204-5874
Telephone: 713-743-8663; Fax: 713-743-8664
E-mail:; Web page:

The Research Base

The Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline program integrated the research from several educational and organization perspectives including school effectiveness, classroom management, school climate and mission, teaching effectiveness and learner gains, and staff development.

[Consensus Standards Model] [Table of Contents] [Éxito Para Todos]