Pedro Noguera: Texas-Style Discipline Puts Suspensions First

8/5/2011

Additional Resources

Here are other OTL resources about school discipline policy:

The release of a Texas study on school discipline last month should be a cause for alarm among policymakers and educators throughout the country. Unfortunately, it will probably get lost amidst the chatter that gets regarded as news these days and its importance to those who seek to find ways to reform America's public schools is likely to go unrecognized.

"Breaking School Rules" is by far the most comprehensive study on school discipline conducted in recent years. The study followed every incoming seventh grader in Texas over three years and in some cases beyond high school graduation. Its most shocking finding is that nearly 60% of the students in the study were suspended at least once (this includes in-school suspension) and an alarming 31% were suspended at least four times. African American students were over-represented among those who had been suspended and subjected to the harshest forms of discipline, including placement in alternative classrooms. A shocking 83% of African American males and 74% of Latino males in the study were suspended at least once, and one in seven students in the study was suspended at least eleven times. 

This study is important for several reasons. First, it makes clear that schools are relying upon suspension and other types of exclusion as a form of punishment, often without regard to how this may affect the education and social welfare of students. The study shows a disturbingly high correlation between the number of times a student is suspended and the likelihood that they will be required to repeat a grade or fail to graduate. When one considers the fact that when a student is suspended from school they typically spend a day at home watching television or playing video games, the logic behind reliance on suspension as a form of discipline becomes even more dubious. The mere fact that many schools are repeatedly suspending the same students should make it clear that suspension is not working, particularly if the goal is to change student behavior. The study makes it clear that such practices are exacerbating the challenges schools face in raising achievement and increasing graduation rates.

Read more at The Huffington Post >