School Threat Assessment

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. Overall, our studies support the safety, effectiveness, and fairness of school threat assessment as a school violence prevention strategy.  Training in the CSTAG model is provided by Dr. Cornell independently of the University of Virginia. 

Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines

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. 

In 2021 we initiated a new project funded by the U. S. Department of Justice to evaluate the statewide training, implementation, and outcomes of threat assessment in Florida public schools. This work has further demonstrated the safety, efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of school threat assessment. If particular note is that there were little or no differences by race, ethnicity, or disability status in disciplinary outcomes or law enforcement responses to students who received a threat assessment. Our technical reports are available online.

In 2023 we began a new project, also funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, to examine the fidelity of implementation, generalizability, and multi-year outcomes of the CSTAG model across multiple districts in 5 states. 

School Threat Assessment as a Fair and Equitable School Safety Response

Presented by Dewey Cornell, Ph.D., as part of a panel on "School Safety at a Crossroads: Can Schools' Responses to the Latest "Safety Crisis" Protect Students without Promoting Inequity?" at the 2023 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting.

View Presentation Slides

Threat Assessment Projects

  • Research Project

VA Student Threat Assessment Guidelines Research

Below is a summary of studies on the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines. 

  • Research Project

The Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines

The Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG), developed in 2001 and known as the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines until 2018, is an evidence-based model for schools to use in conducting threat assessments of students.