What school suspension ‘accomplishes’: Study

By Anne Collier

I hope school administrators will think about this when they’re dealing with cyberbullying: suspending students is only effective as “a school-to-prison pipeline.” That’s a conclusion from “a study of nearly a million Texas children described as an unprecedented look at discipline,” according to the Washington Post. The study analyzed 6.6 million records of every Texas 7th grader 2000-’02, tracking them “for the next six years or more” and matching those records “with juvenile justice records for a fuller picture.” It found that “suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out, or landing in the juvenile justice system.” So it’s troubling that, as reported in the New York Times’s coverage of the study, “31% of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.” That’s discipline that goes into a student’s record. When less serious infractions (leading to in-school suspensions) are factored in, “the rate climbed to nearly 60% … with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.” The Times added that “minority students facing discipline for the first time tended to be given the harsher, out-of-school suspension.” An Indiana University school psychology professor told the times that, though the study was done in Texas, it is representative of the US as a whole. Here’s the study itself. [See also: “Schools rethinking zero tolerance” and “Zero tolerance = zero intelligence: Juvenile judge.”]

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