Threat Assessment Research

Student Threat Assessment as a Safe and Supportive Prevention Strategy

Our team has been conducting research on school threat assessment since 2001. We have developed the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (previously called the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines) and demonstrated its effectiveness through multiple field tests and controlled studies.  Here is a compilation of 20 of our published studies on school threat assessment. Copies are available upon request. Training in the CSTAG model is provided by Dr. Cornell independently of the University of Virginia. Training information can be found here.

In 2014, our research team was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to evaluate and improve the implementation of student threat assessment in Virginia public schools. The grant involved several phases carried out over five years. The project began with a report concerning implementation of threat assessment across all Virginia public schools in 2014-2015 and culminated in our final technical report, Student Threat Assessment as a Safe and Supportive Prevention Strategy, in February 2020. We also developed a free online educational program to improve awareness of school safety and the threat assessment process.

In 2021 the National Institute of Justice published an article summarizing our federally funded study of threat assessment in Virginia schools. A key conclusion is that threat assessment is an alternative to zero tolerance that results in very low rates of school removal and does not generate racial/ethnic disparities. Another conclusion is that school teams need training and support, and the kind of model they use makes a difference in student disciplinary outcomes.

In 2019 we helped establish the National Center for School Safety with the University of Michigan and other partners. Our role is to lead training and technical assistance in school threat assessment. More information on that work is found here.

In 2021 we began a new project funded by the U. S. Department of Justice to evaluate the statewide use of threat assessment in Florida public schools. We will examine multiple aspects of school threat assessment from training and implementation to school safety and student outcomes.