School Discipline: Improving Equality

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African-American students and students with disabilities are more likely to be disciplined with exclusionary measures than other students, says the Council for Exceptional Children.
Yet exclusionary discipline policies that focus on suspensions, expulsions, and arrests are proving to be ineffective at turning problem behavior around, according to the US DOE’s Guiding Principles for Improving School Climate and Discipline [PDF]. In fact, loss of classroom time often leads to kids feeling alienated and rejected, dropping out of school, or ending up in the juvenile justice system.
So the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative is working with educators, juvenile justice representatives, researchers, advocates, and policymakers to identify alternative interventions that are proven to work, and to develop a policy agenda to improve equity in school discipline.
The Collaborative’s Discipline Disparities Series Briefing Papers report that more effective discipline involves:
  • Setting clear and high expectations.
  • Identifying the roots of conflicts.
  • Building supportive relationships among students, staff, and parents.
  • Using restorative justice practices that are keyed to cultural diversity.
  • Recognizing student and family ideas and concerns.
  • Reintegrating students after conflict.
The findings also stress the importance of providing relevant professional development for all school personnel, and they note that federal, state, and local policymakers recommend providing support for teacher training to improve relationships with students and enhance classroom management techniques.
Read the reports on interventions [PDF] and policies [PDF].
Learn about the San Francisco Unified School District's efforts to reduce suspensions with restorative practices and SWPBIS.

Read about restorative practices at the Horicon Van Brunt School in Wisconsin.

Get PBIS concepts, premises, and strategies.
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About the Author

“I believe that more often than many people think is possible, we can prevent problems from getting out of control. We can make each other safer.”