Oct 1

Research Brief: The Color of School Discipline

The Achievement Gap and the Discipline Gap: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Anne Gregory, Russell J. Skiba, and Pedro A. Noguera

Research Topic

The research highlighted in this article focuses on school disciplinary interventions and how classroom exclusionary practices may be contributing to the K- 12 “Achievement Gap.”

Key Findings

The key findings suggest that Black students are two to three times more likely to be suspended from school compared their White and Asian counterparts. The author continues that there is a strong correlation between time engaged in academic learning and student achievement, but Black and Latino males are at a particular risk for classroom exclusionary practices. Thus making it more likely, that these students will display behaviors of academic failure, disengagement, and escalating rule breaking. Finally, the author finds that school administrators must apply a multi-layered strategy when beginning and throughout the process of ameliorating bias in their systems. There was no single causal factor can fully explain differences in racial bias. Thus the solution has to be multifaceted. 

Implications and Keys to Reform

  • Administrators should try to increase system awareness for potential discipline bias in their classroom and enhance the range of consequences deployed when responding to behavior problems.

  • Administrators must be able to separate issues of race and culture when dealing with disciplinary disparities, some disruptions by a student may be a cultural (race, class, and age) miscommunication.       

  • Use exclusionary practices as the last resort rather than the first or only option. 

  • Mental Health services for students who have been exposed to neighborhood violence or substance abuse may be an alternative technique to exclusionary practices in schools.

  • Make a concerted effort to understand the roots of behavior problems

  • School administrator must find methods of reconnecting students to the educational mission of their school during disciplinary events.