Struggling with School Transitions: Evaluating exclusionary discipline practices by grade

Back • Publication Date: May 10th, 2016

Authors: Jason Berkenfeld (Yale Law School student), Bianca Rey, and Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D.

Downloads: Download #1

When students are removed from the classroom via suspension, expulsion, or arrest, they are more likely to experience academic failure, be retained, drop out of school, use drugs, or become involved in the juvenile justice system.  Research shows that suspension and expulsion do not improve student behavior but instead have the opposite effect, increasing the likelihood that the student will be suspended or expelled again.  Despite the growing body of evidence that exclusionary discipline is harmful, it continues to be used as a tool for the promotion of appropriate behavior (and punishment of inappropriate behavior) in Connecticut public schools.

Not all students are suspended, expelled, or arrested at equal rates. Our previous analysis of school discipline data from Connecticut reveals troubling inequalities, showing that students of color, students with special needs, and those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be suspended, expelled, or arrested than their peers.  These students already face a multitude of barriers to success, making them more likely to lag their peers academically; removal from the classroom makes it even harder to catch up. In this issue brief, we expand our analysis of the exclusionary school discipline data set, looking at it by grade level in order to understand at which grades students are most likely to be suspended, expelled, or arrested.