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Disparate use of exclusionary discipline: Evidence on inequities in school discipline from a U.S. state

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Published: 2017-05-22

Authors

Kaitlin P. Anderson

University of Arkansas

Gary W. Ritter

University of Arkansas

Keywords: discipline policy; school discipline; exclusionary discipline; race; disproportionalities

Abstract

There is much discussion in the United States about exclusionary discipline (suspensions and expulsions) in schools. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Black students represent 15% of students, but 44% of students suspended more than once and 36% of expelled students. This analysis uses seven years of individual infraction-level data from public schools in Arkansas. We find that marginalized students are more likely to receive exclusionary discipline, even after controlling for the nature and number of disciplinary referrals, but that most of the differences occur across rather than within schools. Across the state, black students are about 2.4 times as likely to receive exclusionary discipline (conditional on reported infractions and other student characteristics) whereas within school, this same conditional disparity is not statistically significant. Within schools, the disproportionalities in exclusionary discipline are driven primarily by non-race factors such as free- and reduced-price lunch (FRL) eligibility and special education status. We find, not surprisingly, that schools with larger proportions of non-White students tend to give out longer punishments, regardless of school income levels, measured by FRL rates. Combined, these results appear to indicate multiple tiers of disadvantage: race drives most of the disparities across schools, whereas within schools, FRL or special education status may matter more.

 

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Author Biographies

Kaitlin P. Anderson

University of Arkansas

Kaitlin P. Anderson is a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Her research focuses on rigorously evaluating the effects of school policies designed for or affecting disadvantaged students. Her work covers issues such as school discipline, school choice, teacher quality, and quantitative methods.

Gary W. Ritter

University of Arkansas

Gary W. Ritter is a Professor of Education Policy and holder of the Endowed Chair in Education Policy in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. His primary areas of interest are teacher quality, teacher evaluation, racial segregation in schools, and the implementation and evaluation of programs aimed at improving educational outcomes for traditionally under-served students. Ritter’s work has been published in Phi Delta Kappan, Review of Educational Research, Education Finance & Policy, Educational Policy, Education & Urban Society, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the Journal of Education Finance, and Education Next.

PDF

Published: 2017-05-22

How to Cite

Anderson, K. P., & Ritter, G. W. (2017). Disparate use of exclusionary discipline: Evidence on inequities in school discipline from a U.S. state. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 49. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.25.2787