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School Discipline

Research related to the racial disparities in policies and practices related to school discipline.


See also the Civil Rights Project's Center for Civil Rights Remedies for information on additional school-to-prison pipeline research


Research Item Unmasking School Discipline Disparities in California: What the 2019-2020 Data Can Tell Us about Problems and Progress
Limited data collection and analysis during the 2019-2020 pandemic-shortened school year masked the fact that many school districts in California were on course for substantially higher rates of school suspension and larger racial disparities among those suspended, had in-person education continued for the full year.
Research Item Lost Opportunities: How Disparate School Discipline Continues to Drive Differences in the Opportunity to Learn
This national study provides a comprehensive analysis of the instructions days lost due to out-of-school suspensions in 2015-16 for middle and high school students, for every state and district. The study also demonstrates how the frequent use of suspension contributes to stark inequities in the opportunity to learn, especially for those groups most frequently suspended. The descriptive findings will help policymakers understand the impact on every racial group and on students with disabilities.
Research Item Is California Doing Enough to Close the School Discipline Gap?
This research provides a unique seven-year trend analysis indicating that, while California has seen a decline in the use of suspensions in schools prior to the pandemic, the pace of the decline has slowed and large racial disparities in suspension rates remain. The research supports renewed advocacy efforts to eliminate schools’ use of security officers to enforce school rules, finding that high schools with higher security staff-to-student ratios tend to also have higher rates of lost instruction due to suspensions, especially for Black students.
Research Item The Striking Outlier: The Persistent, Painful and Problematic Practice of Corporal Punishment in Schools
This report examines only the data (students populations and paddling incidents) from schools where corporal punishment is used. The report relies on data from the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), primarily from the 2013-14 school year. In schools where corporal punishment is practiced, black students and students with disabilities are more likely to be struck than white students and those without disabilities.
Research Item The Unequal Impact of Suspension on the Opportunity to Learn in CA
In 2016-17, schoolchildren in California lost an estimated 763,690 days of instruction time, a figure based on the combined total of 381,845 in-school suspensions (ISS) and out-of-school suspensions (OSS). This is an updated report on CA suspension practice.
Research Item Lost Instruction: The Disparate Impact of the School Discipline Gap in California
This report is the first to analyze California’s school discipline data as measured by days of missed instruction due to suspension.
Research Item Suspended Education in Massachusetts: Using Days of Lost Instruction Due to Suspension to Evaluate Our Schools
This study uses percentages reported by the state to estimate the total days of missed instruction per 100 students enrolled. The authors argue that this school-level analysis is an ideal indicator for the state’s proposed new accountability system because it gives meaningful information to the public about school climate with regard to how much lost instruction is incurred by students, an area that schools have a great deal of control over.
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