learn / 2015

Trauma Informed Educational Reform: The TIER Project

Trauma Informed Educational Reform: The TIER Project

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by UCLA

The TIER Project is designed to transform public school districts in Los Angeles County into trauma informed educational systems. Eighty school districts will participate in the TIER Project’s 2-day training which includes curriculum on trauma, trauma informed evidence based practices, and developing action plans to implement these practices for K-12 classes. After the training school districts will receive technical assistance to help implement their action plans.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)
  • Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Los Angeles, like other large metropolitan areas, has multiple challenges when it comes to educating all of our children and adolescents in the most equitable manner. There has been more and more research over the last 20 years that documents how children who have been exposed to trauma are at high risk for not achieving educational attainment. Providing these students with equal access to a quality education is the new educational reform imperative for the 21st Century. States, such as Connecticut, Washington, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, to name a few, are addressing these educational challenges faced by traumatized students by having their public school systems become trauma informed. School districts in California are catching on as well. For example, Richmond, Santa Cruz, Humboldt, San Francisco, and San Diego are training their public school teachers about trauma and its impact on learning. There needs to be a system-wide movement in Los Angeles as well. The Trauma Informed Educational Reform (TIER) Project will bring together school districts in Los Angeles County to start the process of becoming trauma informed. This process will start with an in-depth training by school district teams on trauma and trauma informed educational practices. These teams will develop action plans on how to implement trauma informed practices and policies across the district. The TIER Project will provide technical assistance to districts as they become trauma informed. By having Los Angeles schools become trauma informed, the goal of high educational attainment will be accessible for all students; thereby making Los Angeles the “best place to learn.”

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We propose a mixed methods approach for this study in order to capture the full range of important effects, including knowledge gains, changes in attitudes and beliefs and ultimately whether the participants were able to bring trauma informed practice back to their individual school districts. Examining the impact of the TIER project through these multiple techniques, using qualitative and quantitative methods, will improve the accuracy of results through the collection and analysis of different types of data. For example, we will collect data on the rates of suspensions and expulsions, absenteeism and truancy and drop-out rates. Also, we will collect data that documents the experiences of the participants of the training and implementing of their action plans.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support