Article

Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions

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Abstract

Purpose A large body of empirical research finds a significant racial gap in the use of exclusionary school discipline with black students punished at rates disproportionate to whites. Furthermore, no variable or set of variables have yet to account for this discrepancy, inviting speculation that this association is caused by racial bias or racial antipathy. We investigate this link and the possibility that differential behavior may play a role. Methods Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), the largest sample of school-aged children in the United States, we first replicate the results of prior studies. We then estimate a second model controlling for prior problem behavior. Results Replicating prior studies, we first show a clear racial gap between black and white students in suspensions. However, in subsequent analyses the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student – a finding never before reported in the literature. Conclusions These findings highlight the importance of early problem behaviors and suggest that the use of suspensions by teachers and administrators may not have been as racially biased as some scholars have argued.

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... Most research examining correlates of disciplinary exclusion has focused on student demographic characteristics and intersectionality. Male students, students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, and students with disability are disproportionately affected by exclusionary school discipline (Achilles, McLaughlin, & Croninger, 2007;Anderson & Ritter, 2017;Bal, Betters-Bubon, & Fish, 2019;Bowman-Perrott et al., 2013;Camacho & Krezmien, 2020;Cruz & Rodl, 2018;Duran, Zhou, Frew, Kwok, & Benz, 2013;Ford et al., 2018;Hemphill et al., 2010;Hemphill, Plenty, Herrenkohl, Toumbourou, & Catalano, 2014;Krezmien, Leone, & Achilles, 2006;Paget et al., 2018;Skiba et al., 2014;Sullivan, Van Norman, & Klingbeil, 2014;Welsh & Little, 2018;Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014;Yang, Harmeyer, Chen, & Lofaso, 2018). By contrast, students with limited English proficiency show reduced risk of exclusion relative to English speaking peers (Anderson & Ritter, 2017;Bal et al., 2019;Morgan et al., 2019). ...
... The identification by teachers of students presenting early behavioural and/or social-emotional difficulties may offer a viable avenue for the provision of targeted supports to prevent primary school suspensions. Multiple studies have evidenced teacher-reported prior externalising problem behaviours (i.e., acting out behaviours and/or difficulties with self-regulation) as predictors of later suspensions in analyses that control for sociodemographic factors and/or disability (Raffaele Mendez, 2003), including studies of problem behaviours identified as early as kindergarten through 3rd-grade (Morgan et al., 2019;Wright et al., 2014;Yang et al., 2018). Other studies suggest that early symptoms of mental health difficulties more generally (i.e., encompassing social, emotional, and behavioural problems) may also predict later exclusions Paget et al., 2018;Tejerina-Arreal et al., 2020). ...
... teachers via the AEDC assessment of school readiness, most prominently in aggressive behaviour, were associated with primary school suspensions, implying that early childhood intervention for these difficulties may help avert later suspension from primary school. The present investigation extends previous studies (Morgan et al., 2019;Raffaele Mendez, 2003;Wright et al., 2014;Yang et al., 2018) by demonstrating that the associations with primary school suspension of vulnerabilities that reflect externalising-type difficulties (i.e., developmental vulnerability on aggressive behaviour, responsibility and respect, and hyperactivity-inattention) remain significant in multivariable models that control multiple other early life risk factors also associated with suspension. By contrast, vulnerabilities that reflect internalising-type difficulties (i.e., developmental vulnerability on prosocial and helping behaviour, anxious and fearful behaviour, and overall social competence) were no longer associated with suspension in the fully adjusted model. ...
Article
Out-of-school suspension is associated with adverse educational, justice, health, and welfare outcomes. Little research has focussed on suspensions from primary (elementary) school, despite early exclusions representing high-risk events for poor outcomes. This study aimed to identify early life predictors of primary school suspensions in a sample of 34,855 Australian children using linked education, health, child protection, and justice records for children and their parents. Associations between 26 sociodemographic, pregnancy/birth, child, and parent factors (measured prior to 3rd grade) and subsequent suspensions, issued during the 3rd through 6th grades (ages ~8–11 years), were examined in bivariate and multivariable logistic regressions. In the fully adjusted model, 18 factors were associated with suspension, with the largest effects for male gender, child protection services contacts, and aggressive behaviour. Identification of students at risk of early suspension using multi-sector information available at school entry may assist educators and policymakers to deliver preventative interventions.
... 263). 17 Despite the fact that some studies have found that children's behaviors are predictors of receiving disciplinary action, misbehavior does not fully explain the rates of disparities in exclusionary discipline outcomes. 10 Indeed, a comprehensive review of articles published between 1990 and 2017 on K-12 public school discipline in the United States found that increased misbehavior is not the sole explanation for race-based disparities in discipline, instead finding that the policies, practices, and perspectives of childcare providers/teachers play a more important role in explaining disparities. ...
... In particular, our results are in direct contrast to Wright et al.'s conclusion, which states that racial disparities are "likely produced by preexisting behavioral problems of youth that are imported into the classroom, that cause classroom disruptions, and that trigger disciplinary measures by teachers and school officials." 17 Our main contribution is leveraging more objective measures to highlight the biases in the adults' report of student misbehavior. We posit that the differences between our findings and Wright et al. are due to varying measurement approaches, where their study relied on adult-reported measures of child behavior problems, and our paper used direct, independent observations of disruptive behaviors. ...
... Yet, the difference between the results from our paper and Wright's paper has important policy implications given the focus on the child disruptive behavior framework in policy (e.g., 2018 Federal Commission Report from the U.S. Department of Education that uses the child disruptive framework as a guiding framework for school discipline policies, citing Wright's paper). 17 Similar to our results, countless studies have consistently found that disparities in disciplinary infractions are not solely explained by differences in behavioral problems but rather reflect the biases, perceptions, and practices of educators. 18,35,36 Moreover, a recent replication study of Wright et al.'s findings suggested serious issues with their analysis (e.g., selection bias to dif-ferences in sample sizes); once accounting for these issues, problem behaviors no longer accounted for the racial suspension gap. ...
Article
There are large differences in expulsions and suspensions on the basis of race starting in preschool and divergent explanations for their cause. The current study explores how developmental methodology can shed light on this vexing issue. We leverage two measures: (1) childcare provider complaints about children's behavior and their recommended disciplinary action (measured by parent report); and (2) observed disruptive behavior measured by a laboratory-based standardized observation tool, the Disruptive Behavior Diagnostic Observation Schedule (DB-DOS), among a large, sociodemographically diverse sample of children (n = 430; mean age = 4.79 years). We identified three latent class profiles on the basis of race/socioeconomic status (SES) and found disparities in childcare provider complaints based on profile membership. More specifically, children classified in the Black/Hispanic, poor and Black, nonpoor profiles both had significantly higher childcare provider complaints compared with children in the White/Hispanic, nonpoor profile. By contrast, there were no differences in observed disruptive behavior based on race/SES profiles. Finally, childcare provider complaints in preschool were associated with lower cognitive performance in elementary school, above and beyond observed disruptive behavior in preschool and race/SES profiles. Implications for classroom practice and contributions to the national debate on school disciplinary policies are discussed.
... In their study, Wright et al. (2014) compared the likelihood of suspension of 8th-grade Black and White students while controlling for several demographic, academic, behavioral, and school variables. In Wright et al.'s initial model, Black students were more likely to receive a suspension compared to White students, in line with findings going back several decades. ...
... Using a decomposition of hypothesized factors contributing to the disparate suspension rates in elementary school, Owens and McLanahan (2019) found that differences in student behavior accounted for only a relatively small portion of the racial suspension gap. In contrast to these studies, Wright et al. (2014) suggested that PPB could fully account for the racial disparities in suspensions. ...
... Department of Education, 2016). The Wright et al. (2014) analyses implicitly assumed by the use of certain predictors that the suspensions occurred in the eighth grade (e.g., using eighth-grade predictor variables when the actual suspensions could have occurred even prior to the eighth grade). However, this is a basic limitation of the data set (i.e., ECLS-K) used, and others have used the suspension variable in a similar manner (e.g., Morgan et al., 2019). ...
Article
At the end of 2018, Obama-era disciplinary guidance aimed at reducing the use of suspensions in schools (especially for minorities and students with disabilities) was revoked by the U.S. Department of Education. A key piece of research supporting the decision was based on the analyses of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K), which showed that the racial suspension gap was not really about race but resulted from the differential behavior exhibited by Black and White students. We reanalyzed the public-use ECLS-K and provide syntax for our analyses to show that the findings were primarily due to sample selection bias. Several alternative model specifications were tested and continued to show the persistence of the race-based suspension gaps regardless of model or measure used.
... The findings from one 2014 study suggested that the discipline disparity between Black students and their peers of other races was explained by the problem behaviors exhibited by Black students (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). This study concluded that the racial disparity in exclusionary discipline practices might not be as heavily biased as many experts have argued (Wright et al., 2014). ...
... The findings from one 2014 study suggested that the discipline disparity between Black students and their peers of other races was explained by the problem behaviors exhibited by Black students (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). This study concluded that the racial disparity in exclusionary discipline practices might not be as heavily biased as many experts have argued (Wright et al., 2014). However, a 2016 study that analyzed a national high school dataset found that while misbehavior and deviant attitudes were contributing factors to the assignment of exclusionary discipline to Black students, Black students did not engage in misbehavior or display deviant attitudes more often than their White peers (Huang, 2016). ...
... Findings showed that across the state of Arizona, Black students are roughly 2.4 times more likely to receive exclusionary discipline than their White peers, but that this same discipline disparity is not present within each school (Anderson & Ritter, 2017). Similar to the study conducted by Wright et al., (2014), Anderson and Ritter's (2017) research found that within schools, factors other than race accounted for the disproportionalities in exclusionary discipline (Anderson & Ritter, 2017). The study showed that factors such as socio-economic status and special needs eligibility were the primary drivers of the discipline gap in schools across Arizona, and that schools with higher minority populations tended to give out consequences of longer durations, regardless of student income levels (Anderson & Ritter, 2017). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Black preschool students are disproportionately suspended and expelled from school as compared to their same-aged white peers.
... First, although the link between race and school discipline has been widely replicated, even when controlling for factors such as socioeconomic status (Anyon, Zhang, & Hazel, 2016;Bradshaw, Mitchell, O'Brennan, & Leaf, 2010), debate remains in the literature about whether these differences are attributable to teachers' racial bias or racial differences in student misbehavior (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). Scholars favoring the differential behavior hypothesis argue that researchers have relied on imprecise measurements of misbehavior, such as using only one reporter, and suggest that studies should include more covariates that measure the propensity for misbehavior, including prior academic achievement and self-regulatory capacities (Wright et al., 2014). ...
... First, although the link between race and school discipline has been widely replicated, even when controlling for factors such as socioeconomic status (Anyon, Zhang, & Hazel, 2016;Bradshaw, Mitchell, O'Brennan, & Leaf, 2010), debate remains in the literature about whether these differences are attributable to teachers' racial bias or racial differences in student misbehavior (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). Scholars favoring the differential behavior hypothesis argue that researchers have relied on imprecise measurements of misbehavior, such as using only one reporter, and suggest that studies should include more covariates that measure the propensity for misbehavior, including prior academic achievement and self-regulatory capacities (Wright et al., 2014). By controlling for these and other critical covariates (e.g., history of infractions), the current study is positioned to offer commentary on whether there is still an association between race and minor infractions; a remaining link would be compelling evidence that racial bias influences teachers' punishment of minor misconduct. ...
... Second, advocates of differential behavior explanations have focused on suspensions (Wright et al., 2014), an extreme form of punishment that is far removed from how students enter the disciplinary cycle (i.e., with minor infractions). Unfortunately, disparities in extreme punishments can be misconstrued as evidence that racial minority individuals are inherently predisposed to criminality (Hetey & Eberhardt, 2018), in part, because it is much easier to view those at the deepest end of the disciplinary cycle as deserving of their punishment. ...
Article
Although minor misconduct is normative in adolescence, such behavior may be met with punishment in American schools. As part of a punitive disciplinary approach, teachers may give adolescents official infractions for minor misconduct-that is, a minor infraction-presumably to deter future problem behavior. This article investigates three arguments that challenge the wisdom of this assumption and considers the potentially detrimental effects of minor infractions: (a) minor infractions increase, rather than deter, adolescents' defiant behavior; (b) these effects are exacerbated among adolescents who are highly attached to school; and (c) teachers' punishment of minor misconduct may be racially biased, resulting in African American students receiving more minor infractions than White students. To test these hypotheses, 729 adolescents' school disciplinary records were analyzed over 1 academic year. Longitudinal multilevel analyses were conducted to assess (a) if receiving minor infractions predicted later increases in infractions for defiant behavior at the within-student level, (b) whether adolescents' attachment to school moderated this association, and (c) if a disparity existed between African American and White students' average level of minor infractions. Results indicated that minor infractions predicted subsequent rises in defiant behavior, and this link was exacerbated for adolescents who reported initially high levels, but not low levels, of school attachment. Furthermore, African American students received more minor infractions than White students, controlling for a host of risk factors for school misconduct. Findings are discussed in relation to American school discipline policies and African Americans' persistent overrepresentation in school discipline and the criminal justice system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... Our study does not allow for causal inferences. As in prior studies examining for disproportionality in suspension (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014), including for SWD (e.g., Achilles et al., 2007;Bowman-Perrott et al., 2013;Duran et al., 2011), our analyses relied on a parent's retrospective report of school suspension. Parents may not always have known how often their children had been suspended. ...
... Another practical implication of our study is that teachers, school psychologists, and administrators should consider whether students are being suspended in ways that may discriminate based on sex, race, age, or economic background. This is because, as others have found (Petras et al., 2011;Wright et al., 2014), socio-demographic disparities in suspension frequency are not fully explained by variability in student-level externalizing problem behavior as well as other student-level indicators of school functioning that might reasonably be related to the frequency of suspension. Educational practices that might help address these disparities include increasing access to race-or gender-concordant teachers and/or those experienced in working with older students, as these teachers may be able to advise on how to appropriately manage problem behavior in culturally sensitive ways that do not result in suspension (Lindsay & Hart, 2017). ...
... That SWD were not suspended more frequently than students without disabilities as they attend U.S. elementary and middle schools conflicts with some prior work (Krezmien et al., 2006), which did not adjust for potential confounds (Losen & Gillespie, 2012) including prior behavior (GAO, 2018;Sullivan et al., 2013). However, our findings are consistent with other studies (e.g., Theriot et al., 2010), including those few that have similarly accounted for the strong confound of prior behavior (Kinsler, 2011;Wright et al., 2014) and have also failed to find that SWD are more likely to be suspended than otherwise similar students without disabilities. We also fail to find empirical evidence to support federal legislation and policies (U.S. ...
Article
Full-text available
Students with disabilities (SWD) have been reported to be disproportionately suspended from U.S. schools and so more likely to experience the "school-to-prison pipeline" through suspension's associations with lower academic achievement, dropout, juvenile delinquency, and adult crim-inality. Yet few studies have estimated SWD's risk of more frequent suspension while simultaneously controlling for potential confounds. Negative binomial regression modeling of suspension count data from a nationally representative and longitudinal sample (N = 6,740) indicated that males, those from lower resourced families, and students attending more economically segregated schools were more frequently suspended. On average, students who are Black received about 1.6 times as many suspensions by the end of 8th grade as otherwise similar White students. In contrast, having a disability by 1st grade was not a risk factor for more frequent suspension by the end of 8th grade while simultaneously accounting for other risk factors (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, family SES, prior history of externalizing problem behaviors, being from a English-speaking household, school-level economic composition). Students with specific disability conditions (e.g., emotional disturbances, speech or language impairments) were not at increased risk for more frequent suspension. Students with disabilities who are Black, Hispanic, or of other race/ethnicity were not more frequently suspended than SWD who are White.
... Taken together, the debate over school punishment practices has, on the one hand, asserted that overlystrict or zero-tolerance policies facilitate educational failure or juvenile justice contact. On the other hand, there is an argument made that low social control within schools or lenient school punishment practices can also facilitate educational failure or juvenile justice contact (Gottfredson 2001;Welsh 2001;Wright et al. 2014;Zimmerman and Rees 2014). Simon (2007) argued that crime control polices have become a dominant approach to govern insecurity and risk. ...
... Across a number of theories (e.g., social learning, social control, general strain, social disorganization, life course, and deterrence), schools are avenues for learning, bonding, strain, access to educational and economic opportunities, and a potential turning point that can influence adolescents' risk for delinquency and adult criminality (Gottfredson 2001;Kirk 2009;Kirk and Sampson 2013;Maimon, Antonaccio, and French 2012;Peguero and Bracy 2015;Rios 2011Rios , 2017. A number of studies have established and stressed the importance of social control within schools as a key mechanism toward ensuring safe learning environments, as well as placing youth on a trajectory toward prosocial behavior through adolescence and adulthood (May et al. 2016;Wright et al. 2014;Zimmerman and Rees 2014). It has been argued that school punishment practices deter misbehavior and are a central component of social control within schools. ...
... Stemming from the conceptual tenets of rational choice and utilitarian philosophies, deterrence theory is a fundamental framework that has established the tactic of increasing support for securing prosocial behavior within schools via strict school punishment practices (Apel et al. 2009;Cook et al. 2010;Wright et al. 2014;Zimmerman and Rees 2014). According to deterrence theory, socially inappropriate behavior can be prevented by making noncompliance costly for individuals. ...
Article
Although there is research exploring how school punishment practices are influencing academic and juvenile justice outcomes, how strict or lenient school punishment practices are related to aspects of education such as grade retention and dropping out, as well as juvenile justice contact, remains unknown. This study draws from the Texas Education Agency’s Public Education Information Management System to investigate the relationship between strict and lenient school punishment practices, academic progress or failure, and juvenile justice contact. Results indicate that schools with more strict punishment practices can contribute to higher grade retention and juvenile justice referral rates; however, it also appears that lenient punishment practices also exacerbate these same outcomes as well as higher referral rates. The importance of fair, just, and balanced school punishment practices is discussed.
... Importantly, this legislation never indicated that students would be removed from school for any offenses other than those that involved firearms and weapons (Martinez, 2009). Both the passage of this law, and the overuse of suspension by administrators who felt justified in their suspension of students, led to an era where the overuse of suspension had a detrimental effect on various groups of students, mainly Black students (Camacho & Krezmien, 2019;Skiba et al., 2014;Wright et al., 2014) and students who have disabilities (Vincent et al., 2012). ...
... The results of this study were consistent with other findings in the literature. Black students (Camacho & Krezmien, 2019;Skiba et al., 2014;Wright et al., 2014) were suspended from schools at significantly higher rates than White students. Compared to data from seven years ago, we found that the odds of suspension for Black students has decreased significantly in ten districts, increased significantly in seven districts, and stayed the same in seven districts. ...
Article
Full-text available
We examined changes in school discipline policies and the odds of suspension for students by race in one state. Consistent with previous research findings, Black students continue to be suspended at higher rates than White students. School district code of conduct policies indicated that many school districts have started to incorporate alternatives to suspension in their codes of conduct; nonetheless, in- and out-of-school suspension continued to be the most prominent consequences found in school district handbooks to respond to student behavioral infractions. We examined these policy changes alongside out-of-school suspension data to discuss the implications this has for school administrators and policy reform at the local, state, and national level.
... This flaw reflects the fallacy that researchers believe they can safely ignore the degree to which the stimuli used in experimental studies match the distributional properties of the real-world groups they represent. One reason for this disregard may be the belief that all groups have roughly identical distributions on important underlying causal characteristics. 1 Yet this assumption is incorrect, as groups differ (and often markedly so) on important personality, motivational, and cognitive dimensions -in other words, on the interest and ability factors that relate to nearly all outcomes (see, e.g., ACT 2017; Andreoni et al. 2019;Beaver et al. 2013;Benbow & Stanley 1980;Byrnes et al. 1999;Ceci & Williams 2010;Cesario et al. 2019;Diekman et al. 2017;Gottfredson 1998;Halpern et al. 2007;Hsia 1988;Hsin & Xie 2014;Jussim et al. 2009Jussim et al. , 2015aJussim et al. , 2015cLee & Ashton 2020;Lippa 1998;Lu et al. 2020;Lubinski & Benbow 1992;Lynn 2004;Lynn & Irwing 2004;McLanahan & Percheski 2008;Roth et al. 2001;Sowell 2005Sowell , 2008Su et al. 2009;Tregle et al. 2019;Wright et al. 2014). 2 In understanding the role of decision-maker bias in producing disparate outcomes, it is necessary to compare and interpret the size of categorical bias effects with the size of these behavioral differences across groups. ...
... Those data were not available for this study, nor are we aware of any other investigation that has directly observed student behaviors" (Skiba et al. 2002, p. 325). 8 In contrast, Wright et al. (2014) did find that racial differences in school suspension rates were fully accounted for by prior behavioral problems of the student. The point is not to single out these researchers (as such claims are broadly made by nearly everyone doing similar research), but instead to illustrate an additional example of the problems identified above. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article questions the widespread use of experimental social psychology to understand real-world group disparities. Standard experimental practice is to design studies in which participants make judgments of targets who vary only on the social categories to which they belong. This is typically done under simplified decision landscapes and with untrained decision makers. For example, to understand racial disparities in police shootings, researchers show pictures of armed and unarmed Black and White men to undergraduates and have them press "shoot" and "don't shoot" buttons. Having demonstrated categorical bias under these conditions, researchers then use such findings to claim that real-world disparities are also due to decision-maker bias. I describe three flaws inherent in this approach, flaws which undermine any direct contribution of experimental studies to explaining group disparities. First, the decision landscapes used in experimental studies lack crucial components present in actual decisions (Missing Information Flaw). Second, categorical effects in experimental studies are not interpreted in light of other effects on outcomes, including behavioral differences across groups (Missing Forces Flaw). Third, there is no systematic testing of whether the contingencies required to produce experimental effects are present in real-world decisions (Missing Contingencies Flaw). I apply this analysis to three research topics to illustrate the scope of the problem. I discuss how this research tradition has skewed our understanding of the human mind within and beyond the discipline and how results from experimental studies of bias are generally misunderstood. I conclude by arguing that the current research tradition should be abandoned.
... An alternative perspective argues that racial differences in suspension are due to differences in students' behaviors, such as rule-breaking and aggression, inability to pay attention, and inability to get along with peers and teachers (Gregory, Skiba and Noguera 2010;Raffaele-Mendez 2003). Racial differences in students' behavior are well documented (Entwisle and Alexander 1993;Entwisle, Alexander and Olson 2005;McLeod and Nonnemaker 2000;Wright et al. 2014) and result from differences in exposure to stressful environments (e.g., violence), variation in parenting styles, and differences in pre-school and extra-school experiences (Bates et al. 1991;Brooks-Gunn and Duncan 1997;Dance 2002;Deater-Deckard and Dodge 1997;Magnuson and Waldfogel 2005;Robinson 2014). ...
... As examples, Raffaele-Mendez (2003) finds that teachers' ratings of students' attention, school attitudes, and classroom behavior in grades 3 through 5 are strong predictors of 6th grade out-of-school suspension for both Black and White students. Wright et al. (2014) find that racial differences in behaviors between school entry and 4th grade account for some but not all of the gap in suspension by 8th grade. Importantly, both of these studies measure behavior after the child enters school, which raises questions about the causal ordering of behavior and school punishment. ...
Article
School suspension and expulsion are important forms of punishment that disproportionately affect Black students, with long-term consequences for educational attainment and other indicators of wellbeing. Prior research identifies three mechanisms that help account for racial disparities in suspension and expulsion: between-school sorting, differences in student behaviors, and differences in the treatment and support of students with similar behaviors. We extend this literature by (1) comparing the contributions of these three mechanisms in a single study, (2) assessing behavior and school composition when children enter kindergarten and before most are exposed to school discipline, and (3) using both teacher and parent reports of student behaviors. Decomposition analyses reveal that differential treatment and support account for 46 percent of the Black/White gap in suspension/expulsion, while between-school sorting and differences in behavior account for 21 percent and 9 percent of the gap respectively. Results are similar for boys and girls and robust to the use of school fixed effects and measures of school composition and student behavior at ages 5 and 9. Theoretically, our findings highlight differential treatment/support after children enter school as an important but understudied mechanism in the early criminalization of Black students.
... Schmitt, Reedt, and Blackwell (2017) found that Black male offenders receive sentences that are 19.1% longer than White male offenders for the same crimes. Similarly, Rehavi and Starr (2014) found that prosecutors are 1.75 times more likely to charge Black arrestees than White arrestees with crimes carrying mandatory minimum sentences, while Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, and Barnes (2014) found that Black students are significantly more likely to be suspended from school than White students. In the sociology and criminal justice literatures, there is a longstanding debate over whether these differences are due to racial bias on the part of decision-makers or the public-at-large (e.g., Hetey & Eberhardt, 2014) or because of true differences in criminal rates attributable to a "third variable," such as socio-economic differences (e.g., Blau & Blau, 1982). ...
... Specifically, we examined whether there is evidence of racial differences in the documentation of behavioral misconduct. Given extant evidence from the criminal justice and education systems suggesting that Blacks are more likely than Whites to be arrested (Hetey & Eberhardt, 2014), receive longer prison sentences (Rehavi & Starr, 2014;Schmitt et al., 2017), and be suspended from school (Wright et al., 2014), we drew from theories of social identity and aversive racism to investigate whether Black employees, when compared to White employees, are subject to systematic differences in the documentation of behavioral misconduct. According to social identity and aversive racism theories Black officers may form part of an "out-group" that might be subject to differential treatment via the recording of disciplinary actions. ...
Article
Research on employee misconduct has increasingly adopted behavioral measures in field settings, such as archival organizational records, to circumvent potential issues of external validity and social desirability associated with laboratory experiments and self-reported surveys. However, similar to the issues facing the criminal justice and education systems, where racial disparities in punishment are well-documented, organizations face a difficult challenge in detecting and enforcing misconduct. Even when organizations adopt seemingly objective policies for addressing misconduct, it is still possible for certain groups to be disproportionately accused of misconduct and/or disciplined. Drawing from social psychological theories of social identity and aversive racism, we examined the extent to which Black employees (in contrast to White employees) are more likely to have formal incidences of misconduct documented in their employment records, even when there are no racial differences in the number of allegations of misconduct. Across three datasets collected from the police departments of three major metropolitan areas (Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia), we identified the presence of a race discipline gap in archival organizational records of behavioral misconduct. We discuss the implications of these findings and highlight the need for caution when researchers and practitioners use archival measures of behavioral misconduct.
... The over-criminalization and under-medicalization of Black and Hispanic children (and the associated undercriminalization and over-medicalization of White children) and the disparities between high-SES and low-SES children may be due to spurious or unrelated factors. Most notably, many scholars argue that disparities in criminalized and medicalized social control can be explained by differences in the frequency and severity of behavior problems between White and minority youth (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). For example, using a nationally representative sample of children in 8 th graders, Wright et al. (2014) found that prior teacher reports of aggressive behavior explained Black-White and Hispanic-White disparities in school suspension. ...
... Most notably, many scholars argue that disparities in criminalized and medicalized social control can be explained by differences in the frequency and severity of behavior problems between White and minority youth (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). For example, using a nationally representative sample of children in 8 th graders, Wright et al. (2014) found that prior teacher reports of aggressive behavior explained Black-White and Hispanic-White disparities in school suspension. However, a growing body of research suggests that disparities persist even when scholars consider differences in individual behavior problems (Ramey, 2018;Rocque, 2010;Skiba et al., 2013) and variation in school incidents of violence and misbehavior (Irwin et al., 2013;Payne and Welch 2012;. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the U.S., decisions regarding social control are increasingly modeled on two dominant institutions: the criminal justice and medical/healthcare systems. Sociologists and other scholars refer to this adoption of legal and/or medical terminology and technologies as criminalization and medicalization. These models of social control are particular evident in how America defines and manages child behavior. Public schools borrow from both the criminal justice and medical systems as part of the routine educational setting. In this article, I provide the first synthesis and review of the school criminalization and medicalization literatures. In doing so, I argue that criminalized school social controls provide harsh, repressive responses to student misbehavior, while medicalized school social controls provide rehabilitative and restitutive responses. Given these fundamentally different approaches to student behavior, I argue that the disproportionate use of criminalized and medicalized social control across racial/ethnic groups and children from different socioeconomic backgrounds entrenches inequalities and functions to channel racial/ethnic minorities and poor children into the school‐to‐prison pipeline while keeping socially advantaged children in school and away from the problems associated with criminalized social control.
... As this era of school punitiveness has persisted, in an effort to explain what factors are associated with school disciplinary practices, scholars have posited several factors. First, scholars have found evidence suggesting that prior student misconduct explains racial disparities in school discipline (Huang & Cornell, 2017;Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). Nevertheless, much of the existing literature has found that accounting for student misbehavior still does not completely explain disparate suspension outcomes (Huang & Cornell, 2017;McCarthy & Hoge, 1987;Skiba & Peterson, 1999). ...
... In fact, Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, and Barnes (2014) still find racialized effects on the likelihood of suspension. Even after controlling for student misbehavior, the size of the Black student population significantly influenced the likelihood of suspension (Wright et al., 2014). Second, some have argued that certain populations of students, particularly minority students, are perceived as more deviant and thus more deserving of punishment (Bates & Glick, 2013;Noguera, 2008;Townsend, 2000). ...
Article
Concerns about school safety are increasingly commonplace, especially considering the attention garnered by mass shootings and other instances of crime in schools. In response, billions of dollars in federal and state funding have been allocated to assist and support the safeguarding of the school environment and those within the school. However, it remains unclear whether safe school expenditures are consequential for school-related outcomes—specifically, school suspension rates. To fill this void, the current study uses multilevel Poisson and negative binomial regression to analyze school and school district data from the Florida Department of Education, the U.S. Census, the Uniform Crime Report, and the Florida Division of Elections. Findings suggest that safe school expenditures are associated with lower suspension rates for all students. However, the effect of expenditures on Black suspension rates indicates a curvilinear relationship. Safe school expenditures are associated with an initial reduction in the Black suspension rate to a certain threshold; however, once that threshold is met, continual increases in expenditures increase the likelihood of Black suspensions. Although safe school expenditures are associated with lower suspension rates for all students, additional increases in spending on school safety widen the social control net for Black students, thereby amplifying their likelihood of punishment.
... Black children are more likely to experience poverty, family instability, and other conditions that interfere with school attendance and increase behavior problems, placing them at greater risk of suspension or expulsion (Macartney 2011;Manning, Brown, and Stykes 2014;Waldfogel, Craigie, and Brooks-Gunn 2010). Whereas some scholars contend that racial disparities are entirely due to differences in behavior problems (Wright et al. 2014), others suggest characteristics of the student's family and home environment also matter, independent of their influences on student behavior. For example, poverty and paternal incarceration are each associated with school discipline, even controlling for behavior problems (Jacobsen and Haskins 2018;Petras et al. 2011). ...
... We find characteristics of the school the child attends, family context, and home environment explain much more of the racial disparity in exclusionary discipline than externalizing behavior explains (Skiba et al. 2012(Skiba et al. , 2014. This stands in contrast to prior work suggesting racial disparities are due entirely to differences in behavior problems (Wright et al. 2014). Although we find little of the disparity explained by behavior problems overall, teacherreported behavior explains more than parent-reported behavior. ...
Article
We advance current knowledge of school punishment by examining (1) the prevalence of exclusionary discipline in elementary school, (2) racial disparities in exclusionary discipline in elementary school, and (3) the association between exclusionary discipline and aggressive behavior in elementary school. Using child and parent reports from the Fragile Families Study, we estimate that more than one in ten children born between 1998 and 2000 in large US cities were suspended or expelled by age nine, when most were in third grade. We also find extreme racial disparity; about 40 percent of non-Hispanic black boys were suspended or expelled, compared to 8 percent of non-Hispanic white or other-race boys. Disparities are largely due to differences in children's school and home environments rather than to behavior problems. Next, consistent with social stress and strain theories, we find suspension or expulsion associated with increased aggressive behavior in elementary school. This association does not vary by race but is robust to a rich set of covariates, within-individual fixed effects, and matching methods. In conjunction with what we find for racial disparities, our results imply that school discipline policies relying heavily on exclusionary punishment may be fostering childhood inequality. © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.
... The first category of factors is a lack of adequate resources (Bradshaw et al., 2010;Skiba et al., 2002Skiba et al., , 2014Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, & Bachman, 2008;Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). Financial scarcity (i.e., poverty; American Academy of Pediatrics, 2003; cf. ...
... The theoretical expectation is that, all else being equal, students who have developed anxious or disorganized attachment styles from a stressful, chaotic, or abusive home life, or who have identified with deviant or oppositional social subgroups would be more likely to engage in a wide range of disruptive and antisocial behavior, including fighting, vandalism, and defying teachers and administrators. Empirically, the findings reviewed above indicating strong positive relationships between ratings of delinquency, prior problem behavior, and discipline outcomes are also consistent with this assumption (see e.g., Wright et al., 2014). ...
Chapter
In the 1980s and 1990s, policy-makers who were concerned about gang activity and “super predator” youth adopted zero-tolerance policies and practices for students in the U.S. The resulting school-to-prison pipeline is a system of exclusionary discipline and law enforcement that increases contact with the juvenile justice system and ultimately incarceration, especially for Black students. The chapter facilitates psycho-legal research on the entrance to the school-to-prison pipeline—racial disproportionality in school discipline—by providing the background information necessary to understand the basic contours of the problem, the focus and limits of the laws that prohibit it, and the research into the primary social–psychological causes of those disparities. Following a basic description of the problem, the chapter introduces a conceptual framework connecting the types of discrimination prohibited by federal law to the primary social psychological factors that have been proposed as causes of racial disparities in school discipline: (a) Racial differences in student behaviors resulting from poverty, stress, identification with certain social groups, and culture; and (b) teacher and administrator decisions biased by the interactions between explicit or implicit attitudes and beliefs and discipline policies and practices. The chapter then reviews the results of major empirical research regarding the causes of those disparities and identifies which tend to have support, which do not, and where more work is needed.
... Although cognitive bias on the part of school staff may represent a key source of inequalities in discipline, an alternative perspective suggests that these patterns are merely artifacts of differences in rule-breaking, academic performance, and self-control along racial and ethnic lines (Kinsler, 2011;Owens & McLanahan, 2020;Rocque & Paternoster, 2011). Indeed, given the well-documented racial/ethnic differences in delinquency as well as other risk factors for experiencing school discipline (see, e.g., Entwisle & Alexander, 1993;Gregory et al., 2010;Jacobsen et al., 2019;McNulty & Bellair, 2003;Wright et al., 2014), improperly accounting for these sources of selection might result in overestimations of the role that race-based implicit biases play in producing these inequalities. Though some evidence suggests that the association between race/ethnicity and school punishment remains robust even after controlling for potential confounders (e.g., Bradshaw et al., 2010;Huang, 2020;Huang & Cornell, 2017;Owens & McLanahan, 2020;Peguero & Shekarkhar, 2011), the use of statistical matching to improve between-group comparability may provide an instructive contribution to this literature. ...
Article
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Much prior work has revealed that minority students are more likely than White youth to experience school suspensions, expulsions, and office referrals. However, the research establishing these patterns has relied exclusively on regression-based methods, which may not ensure adequate between-group balance on the measured covariates. Using data from the 2012-2019 8th/10th grade cohorts of the Monitoring the Future survey (N = 62,962), this study compares the treatment effects estimated following coarsened exact matching (CEM) with those generated using conventional methods on unmatched data. The results from both sets of analyses reveal notable effects of race but less consistent findings for Hispanic ethnicity. Further, while the effect sizes are similar, the average adjusted predictions from the matched data are more modest.
... Krezmien et al., 2017;Sullivan et al., 2013, Vincent et al., 2012Wright et al., 2014). School suspension correlates with negative effects such as lost instructional time, lower test scores, and increased odds of dropping out of school (Chu & Ready, 2018;Noltemeyer et al., 2015). ...
Article
The aim of this study was to determine the relationship among high school suspension rates, scores received on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) measurement, and a self-reported diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Seven-hundred and fifty high school participants completed the ACE measurement and self-reported whether they had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Each participant’s answers were compared with their respective high school discipline record. This study’s findings suggest that having a combination of ACEs and ADHD increases a student’s chances for being removed from school for misbehavior.
... Of 549 studies, 98 were deemed eligible for further review. The remaining articles were excluded for at least one of the following reasons: the abstract described a sample that was too old-children over the age of 6 or programs serving children outside of the birthto-six scope (n = 95, e.g., Wright et al., 2014); the study included a non-U.S.based sample or published in a language other than English (n = 13, e.g., Parker et al., 2016); and finally, the abstract covered topics not relevant to the discussion of school discipline (n = 343). A sizeable number of excluded abstracts primarily stems from the use of the terms "expulsion" and "suspension" in other disciplines (e.g., the "expulsion of food" in infant feeding studies; e.g., Ahearn, 2002). ...
Article
Young children (birth to age 5) are more likely to be expelled or suspended than school-aged children, but we know comparatively little about the precursors to and prevention of exclusion in early childhood settings. Furthermore, what research has been conducted has not been systematically synthesized to inform policy and funding decisions. The present review seeks to determine how early childhood exclusion is defined and assessed in the academic literature. Studies measuring early childhood suspension or expulsion were systematically gathered and coded for study characteristics, definitions, and measures of exclusionary discipline and disparity, and factors associated with exclusion rates. Results (n = 20) show an accelerating pace of inquiry that attends to multiple levels of the ecological system (children, teachers, and programs) across diverse settings (home-, center-, and school-based care). Additional research that draws on data spanning multiple types of early care and education settings is needed to inform legislation and intervention funding decisions.
... Third, despite the extensive list of student-and school-level controls that were considered in our regression models, it is possible that additional variables which might confound the observed direct and indirect effects were unaccounted for in these analyses. Such factors might include, for example, important early life events and adverse childhood experiences that might exert long-term harmful effects on individuals' psychosocial development (Baglivio et al. 2015;Wolf and Kupchik 2017;Wright et al. 2014). Similarly, we have no information about the specific instances of misbehavior incidents which led to the suspensions or expulsions, the timing of the discipline events, or the attitudes and perceptions of school staff surrounding their sanctioning decisions. ...
Article
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Using the cumulative disadvantage theoretical framework, the current study explores whether school suspension and expulsion provide an indirect path through which race and ethnicity affect the likelihood of experiencing arrest, any incarceration, and long-term incarceration in adulthood. To address these issues, we use data from Waves I, II, and IV of the Add Health survey (N = 14,484), and we employ generalized multilevel structural equation models and parametric regression methods using counterfactual definitions to estimate direct and indirect pathways. We observe that Black (but not Latinx) individuals are consistently more likely than White persons to experience exclusionary school discipline and criminal justice involvement. However, we find a path through which race and Latinx ethnicity indirectly affect the odds of adulthood arrest and incarceration through school discipline. Disparate exposure to school suspension and expulsion experienced by minority youth contributes to racial and ethnic inequalities in justice system involvement. By examining indirect paths to multiple criminal justice consequences along a continuum of punitiveness, this study shows how discipline amplifies cumulative disadvantage during adulthood for Black and, to a lesser extent, Latinx individuals who are disproportionately funneled through the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
... In-school suspensions and office referrals generally have received less research attention than more formal disciplinary responses, but studies exploring these outcomes have documented similar racial/ethnic disparities (e.g., Anyon et al., 2014Anyon et al., , 2018Kinsler, 2011;Rocque, 2010;Rocque & Paternoster, 2011;Skiba et al., 2011). While some scholars have speculated that these patterns are explained, at least in part, by SES (Skiba et al., 2002;Watts & Erevelles, 2004), differential involvement in problem behavior (Wright et al., 2014), and school characteristics (Raffaele Mendez et al., 2002), much research has shown that racial/ethnic inequalities persist even after accounting for these and many other factors (e.g., Edwards, 2016;Huang & Cornell, 2017;Owens & McLanahan, 2020). ...
Article
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Prior research has provided consistent evidence that minority students are more likely than White youth to experience punitive forms of discipline in schools. Scholars have theorized that these disadvantages are closely connected to gender and socioeconomic status, but little research has explored how these factors independently and jointly might moderate the effects of race/ethnicity. Using data from the 2012 to 2018 8th and 10th grade cohorts of the Monitoring the Future survey (N = 53,986), these analyses find that minority students are more likely than Whites to experience suspension/expulsion and office referrals, and this pattern is especially prominent among females. Further, racial/ethnic disparities are amplified for youth whose parents have higher levels of educational attainment, though some differences by gender also emerge.
... For instance, at school, externalizing behaviors may manifest as aggression toward peers, disruptive classroom behaviors, and academic disengagement and inattention (Goodman & West-Olatunji, 2010;Hinshaw, 1992). Researchers have outlined pathways by which externalizing behavior problems negatively affect learning and cognition (Busby et al., 2013), prosocial school behaviors, and, ultimately, educational outcomes (Wright et al., 2014). Thus, traumatic stress and its associated symptoms, especially externalizing symptoms, may greatly impact both mental health and academic functioning. ...
Article
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This study examines differential effects of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program on behavioral and academic outcomes of middle school students. Researchers administered screenings to grade 6 students to assess traumatic stress and then randomized those with elevated levels to the CBITS treatment (n = 150; 47% female) or comparison group (n = 143; 53% female). Analyses examined the overall impact of CBITS and differential effects among subpopulations of students who reported clinically significant externalizing (n = 75; 67% female) or internalizing behavior (n = 185; 53% female) at baseline. Overall, students who received CBITS reported significantly reduced post-traumatic stress symptoms and marginally significant improvements in internalizing symptoms. Relative to counterparts in the comparison group, students exhibiting externalizing behaviors in the CBITS group reported significantly reduced post-traumatic stress, dissociation, anger, internalizing and total behavior problems, and also significantly improved scores on a standardized literacy assessment at posttest and follow-up. Students with internalizing behavior problems showed differential academic effects at 1-year follow-up; those in CBITS did significantly better on standardized math tests.
... Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014;Butler, Lewis, Moore III, & Scott, 2012;Arcia 2007). The National Center for Education Statistics estimated that in 2007, 49% of all Black students had experienced at least one suspension from school, compared to approximately 18% of all white students.While the incidence of suspension fell for white students from 1999-2007, it rose from 37% to 49% for Black students and from 22.7% to 26.5% for Hispanic/Latino students(Aud, KewalRamani, & Frohlich, 2011, Table 14).Camacho (2016) cites multiple studies pointing to disproportionate rates of suspension for students who are from economically disadvantaged families, have an emotional or learning disability or other health impairment, are male, and are not White or Asian. ...
Article
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School counselors are uniquely positioned within the P-12 education system to ensure that all students meet developmental needs in academic, career, and social-emotional areas in order to become successful and contributing members of society. School counselors collaborate with other school staff and parents/caregivers to ensure that students finish high school and are well-equipped for the challenges of the future. Because students who experience even one suspension as early as seventh grade show an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school, it is important to explore ways that schools can effectively decrease the chance that a student will receive behavior referrals that could lead to suspension. Identifying a problem and intervening early is key to successfully changing behavior. In the sample studied, students who attended Title I schools in both 5th and 6th grades had disproportionately high rates of behavior referrals and discipline consequences. Those who had an experienced elementary counselor in 5th grade who was implementing a program based on the ASCA National Model, experienced significantly fewer minor behavior incidents, fewer major behavior incidents, fewer exclusionary consequences, and were significantly more likely to have detention, rather than exclusionary discipline, assigned as a consequence. These findings are important for administrators, especially those who serve Title I schools, and for policy makers and state education officials who establish staffing requirements. This study affirms the important contribution of elementary school counselors to student success. Advisor: Nicholas J. Pace
... Racial biases are thought to reflect broad societal influences (e.g., Dovidio & Gaertner, 2010), and recent analysis of the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey, shows that teachers generally report explicit racial attitudes that are indistinguishable from those of nonteachers after controlling for pertinent demographic factors (Quinn, 2017). Furthermore, teachers work in environments characterized by racial disparities in student achievement and discipline (Morris & Perry, 2016;Reardon et al., 2019) that may over time facilitate a bias for White students over minority students (Ferguson, 2003;Wright et al., 2014). Indeed, decades of research has demonstrated that teachers make racially biased decisions that can fundamentally shape the lives of students, perpetuating racial inequality (e.g., Blanchett, 2006;Lewis, 2003;Lewis & Diamond, 2017;Nicholson-Crotty et al., 2009;Tenenbaum & Ruck, 2007). ...
Article
Schools are heralded by some as unique sites for promoting racial equity. Central to this characterization is the presumption that teachers embrace racial equity and teaching about this topic. In contrast, others have documented the ongoing role of teachers in perpetuating racial inequality in schools. In this article, we employ data from two national data sets to investigate teachers’ explicit and implicit racial bias, comparing them to adults with similar characteristics. We find that both teachers and nonteachers hold pro-White explicit and implicit racial biases. Furthermore, differences between teachers and nonteachers were negligible or insignificant. The findings suggest that if schools are to effectively promote racial equity, teachers should be provided with training to either shift or mitigate the effects of their own racial biases.
... The differential behavior hypothesis posits that minority and White students exhibit different behaviors in school, which in turn contribute to racial disparities in adverse disciplinary outcomes. For example, Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, and Barnes (2014) used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten and found no evidence of racial differences in suspension rates among eighth graders after accounting for teacher assessments of early problem behaviors. Similarly, Rocque (2010) and Bradshaw, Mitchell, O'Brennan, and Leaf (2010) found that the magnitude of the race-based gap in disciplinary referrals decreased after accounting for teacher-reported measures of student behavior. ...
Article
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We explore the discipline gap between Black and White students and between Hispanic and White students using a statewide student-level panel data set on Indiana public school students attending prekindergarten through 12th grade from 2008–2009 through 2013–2014. We demonstrate that the Black-White disciplinary gaps, defined in a variety of ways and robust to a series of specification tests, emerge as early as in prekindergarten and widen with grade progression. The magnitude of these disciplinary gaps attenuates by about half when we control for many student- and school-level characteristics, but it persists within districts and schools. In contrast, we find that Hispanic-White gaps are initially null and statistically insignificant at the prekindergarten/kindergarten level and attenuate substantially after adjustment for cross-school (district) variation and other covariates. We further disentangle the discipline gap using a decomposition technique that provides empirical support for the hypothesis that Black students nonrandomly sort into more punitive disciplinary environments.
... Unattended emotional and behavioral disorders also tend to cascade forward and manifest in future academic deficits, school adjustment problems, special needs enrollment, retention, suspension, absenteeism, and dropout (Bornstein, Hahn, & Suwalsky, 2013;Buhs & Ladd, 2001;Darney, Reinke, Herman, Stormont, & Ialongo, 2013;Obradović, Burt, & Masten, 2009;Searle, Sawyer, Miller-Lewis, & Baghurst, 2014;Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). ...
... These individuals noted utilizing the same response to misbehavior regardless of a student's background or racial identity, implying that racial disparities in discipline, or the school-to-prison pipeline more broadly, reflects differences intrinsic to students rather than extrinsic to education. Suggestions that student behavior explains racial disparities are present in the scholarly literature (see e.g., Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014), however, as in our study, they do not constitute the majority. ...
Article
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This study adds to the extant research on the school-to-prison pipeline by investigating how school-based service providers and administrators conceptualize the causal mechanisms constraining and enabling the school-to-prison pipeline in a large urban district. Thirty-three schools were selected for the study based on their suspension rates. Support staff and district partners (n = 36) participated in focus groups guided by semi-structured protocols. Most participants emphasized structural and systemic causes of the school-to-prison pipeline, such as institutional racism and poverty. To minimize the school-to-prison pipeline, participants highlighted the importance of relationship building and non-punitive practices in response to misbehavior, although solutions offered limited evidence of promising interventions. Given strong research indicating that racial disparities cannot be explained by differential behavior, scholarship in this area emphasizes the need to increase school-level practices that promote positive school climate. The persistence of exclusionary and punitive attitudes among a subset of the sample suggests a need for differentiated professional development to address competing frameworks for understanding the root causes of, and solutions to, the school-to-prison pipeline.
... Department of Education Office for Civil Rights 2014). Past research finds that teachers' perceptions of students' problem behaviors are key predictors of school discipline (Rocque 2010;Wright et al. 2014). If teachers typically perceive that Black boys exhibit more behavioral problems than non-Black boys, even if in reality this is not the case, this may contribute to the disproportionate racial and gendered patterns in school discipline, specifically the overrepresentation of Black boys. ...
Article
The image of the “criminal” black male is one that shapes the social experiences of black males in U.S. society. The racialized and gendered representation of black males as criminal, primarily through the depiction of the “thug,” functions to justify various forms of social marginalization including disproportionate school suspension, mass incarceration, and even death. Research and policy often describe the source of these problems as a product of black males’ culturally deviant behaviors, and thus, minimize the role of race and racism in producing these outcomes. Thus, social and educational discourse frequently depict black males as the source of their own problems, rather than that they face social problems that stem from racism, capitalism, and other structural factors. The racialized depiction of black males is often thought of as something that exclusively shapes the social lives of black male adolescents and adults. However, my dissertation undertakes the importance task of understanding if and how this image might be evident even as early as early childhood. I do so through an examination of teacher perceptions and practices related to school discipline. My data come from two sources: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 2010, and two years of ethnographic observations following a group of students from kindergarten through first-grade within a diverse elementary school. The study finds that (1) teachers perceive that black boys exhibit more problem behaviors than their non-black peers, after controlling for student, teacher, and school characteristics, including past behavior; (2) teachers take racialized approaches to discipline with similar behaving black boys and white boys; and (3) in comparison to non-black boys who exhibit similar levels of problem behaviors, teachers are more likely to contact the parents of black boys about behavior problems. Although the prevailing literature portrays that black boys are free from the constraints of racism in early childhood, this dissertation suggests that anti-black racism does indeed shape the earliest school experiences of black boys. The findings of this dissertation speak to theories that suggest that schools play a socializing role in society. It appears that black boys’ earliest school experiences are socializing them into a society that depicts them as problems and treats them as such.
... Other researchers have examined teacher-reported aggression in early elementary and found this to be a risk factor for school suspension in middle school. For example, researchers using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (ECLS-K) found a link between teacher-reported problem behavior in kindergarten, first, and third grades and school suspension in eighth grade (Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). Based on these longitudinal studies, we predicted associations between early teacher-rated aggression, defiance and disruptive behaviors, and later suspension. ...
Article
Despite the large body of work demonstrating the detrimental effects of school suspension, there are notable gaps in the research regarding predictors of this form of discipline in early elementary school, and particularly in how these predictors may vary by gender. This longitudinal study was designed to address these gaps by exploring kindergarten and first grade predictors of one and three years later school suspension. The final sample consisted of 3495 kindergarten and 1st grade elementary school students who were referred to a truancy program from 348 public schools. Multilevel logistic regressions were conducted to control for cluster effects of individual school on students’ suspension outcomes; findings indicate common and unique risk factors for suspension by gender. For both boys and girls, being Black and being rated by teachers as disruptive predicted future suspension. In addition, teacher-rated aggression for boys and lack of parental involvement for girls were significantly associated with a greater likelihood of suspension. Finally, a teacher's assessment of child behaviors in early elementary school predicted suspension in later. The findings highlight the potential of addressing the predictors of suspension in the early school years as one effective strategy to prevent future school suspension.
... There is a substantial body of research examining school suspensions. Much of the research in this area has focused on the relation between race and suspension (Davis Ganao, Suero Silvestre, & Glenn, 2013;Hoffman, 2014;Krezmien, Leone, & Achilles, 2006;Pei, Forsyth, Teddlie, Asmus, & Stokes, 2013;Skiba et al., 2014;Sullivan, Klingbeil, & Van Norman, 2013;Sullivan, Van Norman, & Klingbeil, 2014;Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014). In these eight studies, African American students were significantly more likely to be suspended than White students. ...
Article
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This paper presents the findings of a study examining trends in disproportionate disciplinary suspensions of students in one state. The study utilized descriptive data analysis and logistic regression analyses to examine trends in disproportionate suspensions by race and disability categories over 12 years. We found that Maryland had substantially reduced the number of students suspended from 2004 to 2012, with reductions in the numbers of students suspended for all but three groups; the African American OHI group, the Hispanic ED group, and the Hispanic OHI group. However, we found increases in the disproportionality of suspensions for each disability category and for each of the three racial groups. Findings are discussed in terms of equitable discipline for historically marginalized learners. Schulsuspendierung und Schüler mit Behinderungen: Trends über die Zeit hinweg Zusammenfassung Dieser Artikel präsentiert die Ergebnisse einer Studie, die Trends in disproportionalen diszipli-nären Suspendierungen von Schüler/innen in einem US-Staat untersucht. Die Studie nutzt de-skriptive Datenanalysen und logistische Regressionsanalysen, um Trends in überproportionalen Suspendierungen nach Rasse und Behinderung über 12 Jahre zu untersuchen. Wir fanden heraus, dass Maryland die Anzahl der von 2004 bis 2012 suspendierten Schüler/innen erheblich reduziert hatte, wobei die Anzahl der Schüler/innen für alle bis auf drei Gruppen zu-rückging; die African American OHI Gruppe, die Hispanic ED Gruppe und die Hispanic OHI Gruppe. Wir stellten jedoch fest, dass die Unverhältnismäßigkeit der Suspendierungen für jede Behinderungskategorie und für jede der drei ethnischen Gruppen anstieg. Die Ergebnisse werden im Sinn einer gerechten Behandlung für historisch marginalisierte Lernende diskutiert. Schlüsselwörter: Schulsuspendierung, Schuldisziplinierung, Ethnie, Behinderung, sozial-emotio-nale Störungen, Lernstörungen Suspension and students with low incidence disabilities
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Children’s readjustment to preschool following long-term school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic merits special attention. This study examined children’s preschool readjustment using a survey of 1008 teachers in a high-risk region and 1399 teachers in a fluctuating-risk region of China. Results found are as follows. (1) children’s preschool readjustment was at a medium level after the long-term school closures. However, children’s preschool readjustment scores in the fluctuating-risk region were significantly lower than those in the high-risk region. (2) Children in both regions were divided into four profiles based on their preschool readjustment: low-level, middle-level, upper-middle-level, and high-level groups. (3) Preschool transition practices and teachers’ turnover intention are common factors relating to preschool readjustment in both regions. Teachers’ professional development support impacted children’s preschool readjustment only in the high-risk region. The findings inform the design of targeted interventions to help children readjust to preschool across different risk regions.
Chapter
Disciplinary disproportionality provides a painful exemplar of structural racism in the United States.In this chapter, we add to the literature on structural racism through a focus on the historical antecedents of current disparities in the administration of exclusionary discipline—suspension and expulsion. We track the massive resistance of the South in the wake of Oliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) and its success in delaying the implementation of meaningful school desegregation. Thereafter, we show how desegregation, when it finally occurred, yielded a significant increase in both the rates of disciplinary exclusion and the size of the Black–White disciplinary gap. Finally, we trace how the importation of the War on Drugs into schools—through the implementation of 1990s zero tolerance policies—created a further widening of Black–White discipline gap, a gap that has not narrowed to this day. We conclude with the realization that the Courts, Congress, the Federal government, and a majority of school districts and schools across America have yet to recognize that separation from educational opportunity that takes place within the walls of schools is also inherently unequal.KeywordsDisproportionalityDisparitiesDisciplineExclusionary disciplineMinoritiesSegregationRace
Chapter
This chapter asserts that too much commentary has been given to school disciplinary disparities with few remedies for mitigating the problem. The time has come to move from courageous to unapologetic conversations about disciplinary disparities. Data furnished by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, for the school year 2017-18 estimates that 11,205,797 youths missed school days from our nation's public schools due to out-of-school suspensions. The average school year is roughly 182 days. Thusly, 61,570 students per day missed invaluable instructional time due to out-of-school suspensions. Black/students of color, males, and students with special education identification are especially vulnerable. This chapter summarizes the extant literature; discusses the core issues, controversies, and problems; highlights the correlates associated with school disciplinary disparities; and proposes several unapologetic and radical recommendations for reducing disparities.
Article
Interventions instated to disrupt the destructive effects of the school-to-prison pipeline on students of color were repealed as a result of the US Education Department’s 2018 Federal Commission on School Safety report. Using a critical policy and critical discourse framework, this paper examines how the language used in the report facilitated the process of repeal while concealing the insidious effects that the repeal could have on students of color and especially black students. Based on this analysis, the paper argues that education policy discourse is influenced by and supports the covert operation of white supremacist ideological structures that hinder the struggle for equity and justice in education.
Article
In this analysis, we consider how a potentially important triggering event in the life course—exclusionary school discipline—may affect students’ high school outcomes. We extend the literature to focus on the long-term effects of exclusionary discipline that occurs in the early grades, when students are relatively young and when a significant share of exclusionary discipline first occurs. We further evaluate the potential, long-term effects of exclusionary discipline on different high school outcomes (non-completion, GED certification, high school diploma) in statistical models that account for observed and unobserved heterogeneity. Overall, we find robust and consistent evidence that very young children are not somehow more resilient or more protected from negative, long-term effects of suspension or expulsion in early elementary school. Moreover, previous research might underestimate the effects of (early) exclusionary discipline more generally by ignoring the independent effects on GED certification.
Article
This research examined the latent developmental patterns for early classroom self-control problems among children from the nation’s most underresourced families. Based on standardized teacher observations from the Head Start Impact Study, a nationally representative sample of children (N = 3827) was assessed for manifestations of aggressive and attention seeking behavior over four years spanning prekindergarten through first grade. For each form of self-control problem, latent growth mixture modeling revealed distinct subpopulations of change patterns. Although most children improved over time, some children arrived in prekindergarten with moderate levels of aggression that remained relatively stable throughout the early transition years. Alternatively, some children early manifested more noticeable levels of either aggressive or attention seeking behaviors that increased in severity as they left prekindergarten. These latter subpopulations were associated with child gender, ethnicity, use of English as a secondary language, provision of special needs services, and maternal education. They were also more likely to experience academic difficulties and parent-reported problem behaviors and less likely to manifest positive relationships with teachers by the close of first grade. Decision rules are suggested for early assessments of children and recommendations made for future exploratory research.
Article
While suspension continues to be a common response to student misbehavior in schools, evidence mounts for its ineffective and counterproductive results. Moreover, as the use of suspension increases, there is a tendency for it to be disproportionately applied to students of color and those with disabilities. Realizing that not all students are equally at-risk for suspension, the role of implicit bias in schools is a necessary consideration for all. The purpose of this paper is to consider the teacher’s role in minimizing the need for suspension by creating student success in the classroom and to present a conceptual framework for both the problem and a potential solution.
Article
American schools have become increasingly punitive and characterized by racial and ethnic disparities in punishment outcomes. Scholarship on the causes and consequences of this shift has highlighted the potential salience of school context. The current study extends this work by exploring the potential effect of an underexplored factor, teacher diversity, on suspension disparities. To date, explorations of the role of teacher diversity have been limited to its impact on academic outcomes, teacher perceptions, and behavioral outcomes. The current study fills a void in the existing literature by examining (1) whether greater teacher diversity is associated with reductions in racial and ethnic suspension disparities and (2) whether greater teacher diversity interacts with the size of the racial and ethnic student population to influence suspension disparities. This study contributes to the existing literature by extending the “value in diversity” perspective to the school setting. Additionally, the findings suggest that racial and ethnic diversity in positions of authority in the school setting fosters a more equitable approach to the administration of student punishment.
Article
Early behavior problems may correlate with adult offending. However, the relationship between early problem behavior and lifetime arrests among known offenders has received little empirical examination. In addition, few studies have explored how the associations between early problem behavior and lifetime arrests may differ among Whites and Nonwhites. It is crucial to understand how early problem behavior is associated with lifetime offending given the growing number of interventions targeting early problem behavior that has the promise to interrupt criminal careers. This study begins to explore the relationship between early problem behavior and lifetime arrests using a sample of men and women who were recently incarcerated in New Jersey. Findings suggest that early problem behavior and the usage of various drugs impact lifetime arrests; however, these factors differ between Whites and Nonwhites. Policy implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.
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Few empirical studies have been conducted on populations in the Middle-East, particularly in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, regarding the relationships between the type of discipline used by caregivers and its subsequent effect on children. Our analyses, which are based on data from the Iraq Multi-Cluster Survey 2018, replicate the prior work of scholars using Western samples, and suggest that variation in parental practices pertaining to the discipline of children is a robust predictor of several negative psychosocial outcomes among Iraqi and Kurdish youth. Specifically, we found that children who were subjected to various forms of violent physical discipline, psychological aggression, and neglectful parenting were more likely to exhibit an array of symptoms of psychosocial disorder, relative to measures of adequate parenting. Our analyses also provide strong support for the presence of comorbid psychosocial outcomes among Iraqi and Kurdish youth that stem from differences in the practice of parental discipline. The results of the current study are discussed regarding both theoretical and practical applications. The study’s limitations are also addressed and suggestions for future research on the discipline–outcome nexus are given.
Article
Relative to White students, Black students experience higher rates of exclusionary discipline and less welcoming school environments. However, little empirical research has examined the extent to which these two parallel racial disparities are linked. This study examines the relationship between student race and suspension and whether this relationship depends on school-level racial disparities in students' sense of school belonging. Using data from 73,755 students (56.4% White, 43.6% Black or African-American) nested within 131 schools, this study uses a series of multilevel models with cross-level interactions. This study finds that Black students are consistently more likely to be suspended than White students, but this difference is nonsignificant in schools where Black students' sense of school belonging is much higher than that of White students'. As such, schools' efforts toward reducing the discipline gap may benefit from making schools more welcoming to Black students.
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A vast body of research demonstrates that the consequences of the “criminalization” of school discipline are not racially equitable, and Black and Hispanic students are more likely than White youth to experience exclusionary school punishments. However, limited prior work has examined the factors that might strengthen or weaken racial/ethnic inequalities in school discipline. Theoretically, academic achievement could moderate the effects of race and ethnicity, especially in conjunction with gender, though the expected direction of these interactive relationships is unclear. To explore these issues, the current study makes use of data from the 2018 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (N = 54,611). The analyses reveal that, while Black male youth are the most likely to be suspended, racial/ethnic disparities are greater among females than males. Additionally, racial differences in the likelihood of suspension are more prominent at higher levels of academic achievement, particularly among female students.
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The majority of the research on school suspension practices has focused on individual student-level factors and their relationship to school suspension practices. A substantial number of studies have examined race and/or disability status as predictors of suspension (Camacho & Krezmien, 2018 Camacho, K. A., & Krezmien, M. P. (2018). Individual- and school-level factors contributing to disproportionate suspension rates: A multilevel analysis of one state. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 106342661876906. doi:10.1177/1063426618769065[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Krezmien, Travers, & Camacho, 2017 Krezmien, M. P., Travers, J. C., & Camacho, K. A. (2017). Suspension rates of students with autism or intellectual disabilities in Maryland from 2004 to 2015. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 61(11), 1011–1020. doi:10.1111/jir.12406[Crossref], [PubMed], [Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]; Sullivan, Klingbeil, & Van Norman, 2013 Sullivan, A. L., Klingbeil, D. A., & Van Norman, E. R. (2013). Beyond behavior: Multilevel analysis of the influence of sociodemographics and school characteristics on students' risk of suspension. School Psychology Review, 42(1), 99–114.[Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]; Vincent, Sprague, & Tobin, 2012; Wright, Morgan, Coyne, Beaver, & Barnes, 2014 Wright, J. P., Morgan, M. A., Coyne, M. A., Beaver, K. M., & Barnes, J. C. (2014). Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions. Journal of Criminal Justice, 42(3), 257–266. doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2014.01.001[Crossref], [Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]). They have consistently found that African American students and students with disabilities are more likely to be suspended from school compared to White students and students without disabilities. Fewer studies have focused on school-level factors that are associated with disproportionate suspension practices. These studies have found that secondary schools suspend more students than elementary schools (Butler, Lewis, Moore, & Scott, 2012 Butler, B. R., Lewis, C. W., Moore, J. L. I., II., & Scott, M. E. (2012). Assessing the odds: Disproportional discipline practices and implications for educational stakeholders. Journal of Negro Education, 81(1), 11–24.[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Camacho & Krezmien, 2018 Camacho, K. A., & Krezmien, M. P. (2018). Individual- and school-level factors contributing to disproportionate suspension rates: A multilevel analysis of one state. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 106342661876906. doi:10.1177/1063426618769065[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]). Schools with lower academic achievement (Camacho & Krezmien, 2018 Camacho, K. A., & Krezmien, M. P. (2018). Individual- and school-level factors contributing to disproportionate suspension rates: A multilevel analysis of one state. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 106342661876906. doi:10.1177/1063426618769065[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Skiba et al., 2014 Skiba, R. J., Chung, C.-G., Trachok, M., Baker, T. L., Sheya, A., & Hughes, R. L. (2014). Parsing disciplinary disproportionality: Contributions of infraction, student, and school characteristics to out-of-school suspension and expulsion. American Educational Research Journal, 51(4), 640–670. doi:10.3102/0002831214541670[Crossref], [Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]), higher retention rates (Christle, Nelson, & Jolivette, 2004 Christle, C., Nelson, C. M., & Jolivette, K. (2004). School characteristics related to the use of suspension. Education & Treatment of Children, 27(4), 509–526. [Google Scholar]), and more highly qualified teachers (Camacho & Krezmien, 2018 Camacho, K. A., & Krezmien, M. P. (2018). Individual- and school-level factors contributing to disproportionate suspension rates: A multilevel analysis of one state. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 106342661876906. doi:10.1177/1063426618769065[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Losen, Simmons, Staudinger-Poloni, Rausch, & Skiba, 2003 Losen, D. J., Simmons, A. B., Staudinger-Poloni, L., Rausch, M. K., & Skiba, R. (2003). Exploring the link between low teacher quality and disciplinary exclusion. Boston, MA: Harvard University Civil Right Project and Northeastern University Institute on Race and Justice. [Google Scholar]) had lower suspension rates. Schools with higher percentages of Black students (Skiba et al., 2014 Skiba, R. J., Chung, C.-G., Trachok, M., Baker, T. L., Sheya, A., & Hughes, R. L. (2014). Parsing disciplinary disproportionality: Contributions of infraction, student, and school characteristics to out-of-school suspension and expulsion. American Educational Research Journal, 51(4), 640–670. doi:10.3102/0002831214541670[Crossref], [Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]), higher dropout rates (Christle et al., 2004 Christle, C., Nelson, C. M., & Jolivette, K. (2004). School characteristics related to the use of suspension. Education & Treatment of Children, 27(4), 509–526. [Google Scholar]), and higher mobility rates (Camacho & Krezmien, 2018 Camacho, K. A., & Krezmien, M. P. (2018). Individual- and school-level factors contributing to disproportionate suspension rates: A multilevel analysis of one state. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 106342661876906. doi:10.1177/1063426618769065[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]; Hemphill, Plenty, Herrenkohl, Toumbourou, & Catalano, 2014 Hemphill, S. A., Plenty, S. M., Herrenkohl, T. I., Toumbourou, J. W., & Catalano, R. F. (2014). Student and school factors associated with school suspension: A multilevel analysis of students in Victoria, Australia and Washington State, United States. Children & Youth Services Review, 36, 187–194. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.11.022[Crossref] , [Google Scholar]) placed students at higher risk for suspension. Despite these consistent findings, there has been relatively little research examining school discipline policies (Fenning et al., 2008 Fenning, P., Golomb, S., Gordon, V., Kelly, M., Scheinfield, R., Morello, T., … Banull, C. (2008). Written discipline policies used by administrators: Do we have sufficient tools of the trade?. Journal of School Violence, 7(2), 123–146. doi:10.1300/J202v07n02_08[Taylor & Francis Online] , [Google Scholar]) and the relationship between school discipline policies and discipline outcomes.
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We examined whether U.S. schools systemically discriminate when suspending or otherwise disciplining students with disabilities (SWD). Eighteen studies met inclusion criteria. We coded 147 available risk estimates from these 18 studies. Of four studies including individual-level controls for infraction reasons, over half of the available estimates (i.e., 14 of 24, or 58%) failed to indicate that SWD were more likely to be suspended than otherwise similar students without disabilities. Of the seven available estimates adjusted for the strong confound of individual-level behavior, most (i.e., five of seven, or 71%) failed to indicate that SWD were more likely to be suspended. The other two estimates indicating SWD were more likely to be suspended were from one study. We also examined whether SWD were less likely to be suspended than otherwise similar students without disabilities. There was no strong evidence of this. Empirical evidence regarding whether U.S. schools discriminate when disciplining SWD is currently inconclusive.
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Discipline disproportionality is the overuse of exclusionary discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, on Black students in American schools. This study adds to the literature by examining how parental involvement affects racial disparities in disciplinary outcomes in in-school suspension and by theoretically analyzing how parents’ social and cultural capital affect student disciplinary outcomes. The study uses Hayes’s dimensions of parental involvement as potential moderators between race and exclusionary discipline: achievement values, home-based involvement, and school-based involvement. Using base year data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (n = 15,362), a logistic regression model examines the three parental involvement dimensions as moderators of race and suspension. Two of the three dimensions significantly moderate the relationship between race and suspension. Both moderators are associated with a higher rate of discipline disproportionality. The analysis suggests that even while Black parents act as “adept managers” of capital, schools are still marginalizing the nondominant forms of capital that Black parents have.
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There is growing concern that suspensions trigger a ‘‘downward spiral,’’ redirecting children’s trajectories away from school success and toward police contact. The current study tests this possibility, analyzing whether and in what ways childhood suspensions increase children’s risk for juvenile arrests. Combining 15 years of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with contextual information on neighborhoods and schools, I find that suspensions disproportionately affect children already enduring considerable adversity. Even so, suspensions appear to redirect children’s trajectories, more than doubling their risk of arrest. Although suspended children experienced greater escalations in behavioral problems than their peers, post-suspension behavioral changes explained relatively little of the association between early suspension and later arrest. Instead, the most consequential way suspended children diverged from their peers was their heightened risk for repeated school sanction. Suspended children’s risk for repeated school removal explained 52 percent of the association between childhood suspension and juvenile arrest.
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This chapter provides a broad overview of school-based criminalization of youth across the US educational institutions and in the process, explores explanations for the surging of what a growing body of scholarship defines as the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ (STPP). We show that the STPP metaphor refers to a harmful relationship between school-based criminalization of youth, disproportionately those of colour, and the likelihood that criminalized youth will come into contact with the US juvenile and/or criminal justice system. We present key explanations for, and implications of, this phenomenon, as well as possible directions for research on this issue that very clearly deters educational equity and equality in the United States as well as suggested how STPP may be occurring internationally.
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A long line of research finds consistently that African American students aresignificantly more likely than white students to be subjected to a range of negative schoolsanctions. Several researchers attribute this differential to racially biased appraisals ofAfrican American's behaviors by teachers and school administrators. Using data from theECLS-K-the largest sample of kindergarten and first grade students ever created-wetest whether there are statistically significant differences in social skills between whitesand African Americans at the start of their educational careers. We then evaluate whetherteacher characteristics, including their race, have any impact on their evaluations ofstudent social skills. The findings provide no evidence suggesting that teachers are biasedagainst black students. The data do reveal, however, that black students enter school withsubstantial social skills deficits.
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Confirmation bias, as the term is typically used in the psychological literature, connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand. The author reviews evidence of such a bias in a variety of guises and gives examples of its operation in several practical contexts. Possible explanations are considered, and the question of its utility or disutility is discussed.
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The disproportionate discipline of African-American students has been extensively documented; yet the reasons for those disparities are less well understood. Drawing upon one year of middle-school disciplinary data for an urban school district, we explored three of the most commonly offered hypotheses for disproportionate discipline based on gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Racial and gender disparities in office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions were somewhat more robust than socioeconomic differences. Both racial and gender differences remained when controlling for socioeconomic status. Finally, although evidence emerged that boys engage more frequently in a broad range of disruptive behavior, there were no similar findings for race. Rather, there appeared to be a differential pattern of treatment, originating at the classroom level, wherein African-American students are referred to the office for infractions that are more subjective in interpretation. Implications for teacher training and structural reform are explored.
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Previous scholarship on juvenile case dispositions has suggested a complex relationship between legal and extra-legal factors. Previous studies, however, have suffered from methodological limitations of cross-sectional data that potentially overstated the salience of extra-legal factors. This study addressed that limitation using longitudinal case-management system data from a large southern state. The findings suggested a distinction between the first referral and subsequent referrals. Extra-legal factors, such as age, gender, and race contributed to formal case disposition in the first referral, but waned in referrals two through six. Legal factors significantly and robustly predicted formal case disposition in the first and subsequent referrals. Felony offense significantly increased the likelihood of a formal disposition across all referrals and previous case disposition significantly increased the likelihood of formal disposition in subsequent referrals. Concluding remarks focus on implications and future research.
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Schools today frequently resort to punishments that exclude students from the classroom, such as expulsion, suspension, and in-school suspension, much like the criminal justice system excludes criminals from greater society. Although prior research testing the racial threat hypothesis has found that racial composition is associated with the use of more punitive criminal punishment and harsher student discipline, no threat research to date has assessed the possibility that school-level racial composition affects the likelihood that specific exclusionary student punishments will be implemented. Using a national random sample of schools, this study is the first to test and support the racial threat perspective in relation to the use of expulsion and suspension, finding that zero tolerance policies often contribute to this effect.
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This study examined the extent to which race and age individually and jointly determined juvenile justice case outcomes at intake and judicial disposition among males in one county juvenile court in the state of Iowa. Using an interpretation of the symbolic threat thesis and the emphasis on stereotyping as the theoretical framework, we discovered that being Black and older increased a youth's chances of receiving an intake court referral and decreased the odds of participation in intake diversion. Age did not condition intake decision making for African Americans but was discovered to temper case outcomes for Whites. Although individual relationships were found, there was no evidence of joint race-age effects in decision making at judicial disposition.
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One of the strongest findings in the juvenile delinquency literature is the relationship between a lack of school success, school disengagement, and involvement in the criminal justice system. This link has been deemed the "school-to-jail pipeline." To date, research has not clarified the antecedents or origins of this school failure and disengagement, although it is known that it occurs at relatively young ages. This study examines one possible source: racial bias in school discipline experienced during the elementary school years. Using a multi-level analysis, we examine whether African-American elementary school students are more likely to receive disciplinary infractions while controlling for individual-level, classroom-level, and school-level factors. Our findings, robust across several models, show that African-American children receive more disciplinary infractions than children from other racial categories. Classroom factors, school factors, and student behavior are not sufficient to account for this finding. We also find that school-level characteristics (e.g., percentage of black students) are related to overall discipline levels, consistent with a racial threat hypothesis. These findings have important implications for the school-to-jail literature and may point to one explanation for why minority students fare less well and are more likely to disengage from schools at a younger age than whites.
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This study examined the relationship between structure and support in the high school climate and suspension rates in a statewide sample of 199 schools. School climate surveys completed by 5,035 ninth grade students measured characteristics of authoritative schools, defined as highly supportive, yet highly structured with academic and behavioral expectations. Multivariate analyses showed that schools low on characteristics of an authoritative school had the highest schoolwide suspension rates for Black and White students after statistically controlling for school demographics. Furthermore, schools low on both structure and support had the largest racial discipline gaps. These findings highlight the characteristics of risky settings that may not meet the developmental needs of adolescents and may contribute to disproportionate disciplinary outcomes for Black students.
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The gap in achievement across racial and ethnic groups has been a focus of education research for decades, but the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of Black, Latino, and American Indian students has received less attention. This article synthesizes research on racial and ethnic patterns in school sanctions and considers how disproportionate discipline might contribute to lagging achievement among students of color. It further examines the evidence for student, school, and community contributors to the racial and ethnic patterns in school sanctions, and it offers promising directions for gap-reducing discipline policies and practices.
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Tests of the racial threat hypothesis, linking the racial composition of place to various measures of social control, find that where there are greater percentages of blacks, more punitive criminal justice policies are implemented. Just as the criminal justice system continues to get tougher on crime despite stagnant crime rates, it is also clear that schools are becoming harsher toward student misbehavior and delinquency despite decreases in these school-based occurrences. However, only a very limited number of studies have been able to partially explain this trend of intensifying social control in schools. Using a national sample of 294 public schools, the present study is the first to test the racial threat hypothesis within schools to determine if the racial composition of students predicts greater use of punitive controls, regardless of levels of misbehavior and delinquency. Results of multivariate analyses support the racial threat perspective, finding that schools with a larger percentage of black students are not only more likely to use punitive disciplinary responses, but also more likely to use extremely punitive discipline and to implement zero tolerance policies. They also use fewer mild disciplinary practices and restitutive techniques. In addition, racial threat is more influential when school delinquency and disorder are lower.
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The overrepresentation of ethnic minority students, particularly African American males, in the exclusionary discipline consequences of suspension and expulsion has been consistently documented during the past three decades. Children of poverty and those with academic problems are also overrepresented in such discipline consequences. Sadly, a direct link between these exclusionary discipline consequences and entrance to prison has been documented and termed the school-to-prison pipeline for these most vulnerable students. In this article, the authors argue that ethnographic and interview data would support teachers' perceptions of loss of classroom control (and accompanying fear) as contributing to who is labeled and removed for discipline reasons (largely poor students of color). Exclusionary discipline consequences are the primary medium used once students are sent from the classroom. The authors recommend substantial revisions to discipline policies consistent with models of positive behavior support.
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Previous research has consistently found a relationship between student race and discipline. For example, African Americans are more likely than whites to be sent to the office or suspended. However, much of this work is limited by a lack of student behavior and school-level variables. This study examined the effect of student race on office referrals in 45 elementary schools while controlling for ratings of student behavior and using a fixed effects model to remove schoollevel influences. The results indicate that African American students are significantly more likely to be referred to the office than other racial groups. Neither student behavior nor school-level factors are sufficient to explain this relationship; however, these factors do dampen the effect of race on discipline, suggesting that previous work has reported inflated coefficients. Given the historical association between exclusionary school discipline and later negative life outcomes, this issue warrants increased attention. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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Confirmation bias, as the term is typically used in the psychological literature, connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand. The author reviews evidence of such a bias in a variety of guises and gives examples of its operation in several practical contexts. Possible explanations are considered, and the question of its utility or disutility is discussed. When men wish to construct or support a theory, how they torture facts into their service! (Mackay, 1852/ 1932, p. 552) Confirmation bias is perhaps the best known and most widely accepted notion of inferential error to come out of the literature on human reasoning. (Evans, 1989, p. 41) If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirma- tion bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration. Many have written about this bias, and it appears to be sufficiently strong and pervasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant fraction of the disputes, altercations, and misun- derstandings that occur among individuals, groups, and nations.
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This paper presents a test of Moffitt's (1993) prediction on the stability of longitudinal antisocial behavior, using data from the South-Holland Study. Aggressive (overt) and non-aggressive antisocial (covert) behaviors were measured when subjects were 6–11 years old, and at follow-ups when they were 12–17 years old and 20–25 years old. In accordance with the postulate, we did find a higher level of stability of overt behavior from childhood to adulthood, compared with childhood to adolescence, especially in combination with early manifestations of status violations and/or covert behavior in childhood. Results related to the stability of covert behavior were not in accordance with the prediction, but did support the recently proposed adjustment to the starting age of the adult phase.
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This study explored early childhood manifestations of self-control in a nationally representative cohort of kindergarten children. Finite mixture modeling was used to identify five latent classes of children based on parent and teacher reports of self control across three waves of data. These were a low impairment, teacher report (n = 5,047, 29.3%), low impairment, parent and teacher report (n = 2,889, 16.8%), moderate impairment, teacher report ( n = 5,267, 30.6%), moderate impairment, parent report (n = 2,415, 14.0%), and severely impaired subgroups (n = 1,594, 9.3%). Parental stress, externalizing behaviors, and interpersonal skills deficits were important differentiators across class memberships. The severely impaired subgroup possessed an array of neurocognitive deficits, behavioral problems, and learning difficulties relative to other classes. To forestall life-course problem behaviors for impaired children appropriate screening and intervention is warranted.
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Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) included substantive changes in the area of disciplining students with disabilities. Historically, discipline has been a divisive issue within the field of special education. Many administrators and teachers believe differential treatment has been afforded to this population, fostering a system that promotes separatism and inequality. The authors provide an overview of IDEA 2004 provisions on discipline and outline practical recommendations that will aid school personnel maintain a safe environment for all students. Areas of discussion include suspension procedures, functional behavioral assessments, manifestation determination meetings, and interim alternative educational settings. The authors also provide a list of potential alternatives to disciplinary exclusions.
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A comparative and integrative review was conducted of six published rating scales commonly used to assess the social skills of preschool and school-aged children. Four norm-referenced instruments are reviewed: School Social Behavior Scales (SSBS; Merrell, 1993), Social Skills Rating System (SSRS; Gresham & Elliott, 1990), Waksman Social Skills Rating Scale (WSSRS; Waksman, 1985), and Walker-McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment (WMS; Walker & Mc-Connell, 1988). The School Social Skills Rating Scale (S³; Brown, Black, & Downs, 1984) and Social Behavior Assessment Inventory (SBAI; Stephens & Arnold, 1992) are included as criterion-referenced rating scales. Content and use, standardization sample and norms, scores and interpretation, and psychometric properties were reviewed. We concluded that the most comprehensive instrument is the SSRS because of its multi-source approach and intervention linkage. The SSBS and the WMS are useful tools for a more limited school scope. The remaining norm-referenced scale, WSSRS, is not recommended. Following initial screening, the S³ and SBAI are useful for a more specific examination of particular behaviors to target for change.
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Many studies have reported that there are race differences in school suspensions and exclusions in the United States. The incidence of school suspensions and exclusions is highest in blacks, followed by Native Americans, Hispanics, and whites, and lowest in East Asians. A Task Force set up by the American Psychological Association to consider these differences has concluded that "there are no data supporting the assumption that African American students exhibit higher rates of disruption or violence that would warrant higher rates of discipline. Rather, African American students may be disciplined more severely for less serious or more subjective reasons...the disproportionate discipline of students of color may be due to lack of teacher preparation in classroom management, lack of training in culturally competent practices, or racial stereotypes". It is argued that race differences in school suspensions and exclusions are more reasonably attributable to differences in anti-social behavior.
Chapter
Assesses the empirical evidence in support of longstanding observations and beliefs regarding racial disparity in rates of serious violent crime and aggression among children and adolescents. Calls for new research protocols and theory making aimed at better understanding the causes of such group differences.
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School-related problems such as poor academic performance, truancy, frequent suspensions, and grade repeating have been identified as risk factors for adolescent behavior problems. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect of school-related factors on violent criminality in adulthood, based on data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Logistic regression analyses indicated that behavioral variables (i.e., truancy, suspensions) and academic variables (i.e., grade retention and grades) significantly improved the prediction of criminal offending. The strongest predictor of violent criminal behavior in adulthood was repeating a grade at the secondary level. Practice implications are presented.
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Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that boys in general and African American males in particular are disproportionately represented among students who receive corporal punishment (CP) in school. Until 1994, no national data disaggregated by race and gender were available to determine if African American boys are indeed subjected to physical discipline at excessive rates. This study provides the first analysis of such race/gender-disaggregated data; it also lamentably confirms the popular belief. The incidence of African American males receiving CP was found to be extremely high, as was the likelihood ratio comparing Black male students' CP rates to those for other race/gender cohorts, especially White females. Limitations of the data set and implications of the findings are discussed.
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Black adolescents are much more likely to run afoul of the juvenile justice system than are similar white adolescents, even though the two groups self-report similar rates of offending. Within public schools we find the same differential pattern. Using three waves of longitudinal data collected in schools we evaluate several explanations for the disparity. The greater rates of punishment for blacks occur as a consequence of teachers' perceptions of the students' behavior, their knowledge of students' recent academic performance, and their knowledge of students' past record of being sanctioned. Since black adolescents in our sample received poorer grades and were rated as less well behaved in the past, they were more likely to have been sanctioned and therefore to acquire a cumulative disadvantage. The punishment disparity is best understood as the result of a social construction process.
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Blacks in the United States are arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population. One explanation is that racial discrimination against Blacks pervades the American system of criminal justice. This study examined the nature and extent of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system by evaluating five propositions using data from extant literature. Little evidence was found to support the allegation that the criminal justice system systematically discriminates against Blacks.
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This book is about differences in intellectual capacity among people and groups and what those differences mean for America's future.(preface) The major purpose of this book] is to reveal the dramatic transformation that is currently in process in American society---a process that has created a new kind of class structure led by a "cognitive elite," itself a result of concentration and self-selection in those social pools well endowed with cognitive abilities. Herrnstein and Murray explore] the ways that low intelligence, independent of social, economic, or ethnic background, lies at the root of many of our social problems. The authors also demonstrate the truth of another taboo fact: that intelligence levels differ among ethnic groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)(jacket)
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Despite known risks associated with aberrant social skill development, there has been a relative dearth of literature on typical developmental changes in social skills over time. In this study, we examine systematic changes in social skills from kindergarten (typical age of 5–6 years) to third grade (typical age of 8–9 years), and focus on systematic heterogeneity across these developmental trajectories. Data came from the National Head Start—Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration Project (N = 6964). Mixture models provide evidence for multiple classes of individuals representing heterogeneity in the development of social skills. Classes were defined as a majority class (whose trajectories remained relatively stable over time), an increasing class (whose trajectories increased at a faster rate than the majority class), and a decreasing class (whose trajectories decreased at a faster rate than the majority class). Developmental trends accounted for a substantial proportion of the variance in social skill components. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.
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One of the most consistent findings in the criminological literature is that African American males are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at rates that far exceed those of any other racial or ethnic group. This racial disparity is frequently interpreted as evidence that the criminal justice system is racist and biased against African American males. Much of the existing literature purportedly supporting this inter-pretation, however, fails to estimate properly specified statistical models that control for a range of indi-vidual-level factors. The current study was designed to address this shortcoming by analyzing a sample of African American and White males drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Analysis of these data revealed that African American males are significantly more likely to be arrested and incarcerated when compared to White males. This racial disparity, however, was com-pletely accounted for after including covariates for self-reported lifetime violence and IQ. Implications of this study are discussed and avenues for future research are offered.
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Disproportionate minority contact during traffic stops has been a consistent source of commentary and study in recent years. While various theoretical perspectives have been employed to explain these empirical findings, the differential offending hypotheses has been largely ignored as a viable alternative explanation. Building on existing empirical evidence regarding criminal offending patterns and driving patterns, we examined the veracity of this explanation using data from an observational study of urban driving behavior.
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At state and national levels, black students are more likely to be suspended from school, and conditional on misbehavior, receive stiffer penalties when compared with white students. Racial bias is often cited as a primary contributor to these gaps. Using infraction data from North Carolina, I investigate gaps in punishment within and across schools, and explore how student-teacher and student-principal race interactions affect discipline. I find a significant statewide gap in discipline that is largely generated by cross-school variation in punishment. In addition, there is little evidence that black students are treated differentially according to teacher or principal race.
Article
Using school, district, and county data from the State of Florida Department of Education and the U.S. Census, we examine the relationship between school segregation and the overrepresentation of black students among those suspended. We explore two competing hypotheses about the nature of this relationship: (1) an overall racial inequality hypothesis that suggests schools located in districts with relatively high levels of segregation among students also have the largest black suspension imbalances and (2) a resegregation hypothesis that suggests schools situated in relatively highly segregated districts have the lowest rates of black imbalances in suspension. Results from a multilevel analysis indicated that higher levels of school segregation corresponded with lower levels of the black suspension imbalance and provided support for the resegregation hypothesis.
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Understanding racial differences in violent behavior has become a research priority due to increasing rates of violence among adolescents and young adults, especially African American males. Socioeconomic status (SES) has been shown to be an important variable in helping to explain racial differences in health-related behaviors. This study investigated the moderating and confounding effects of SES on the relationship between race and violent behavior in a sample of young adults (N = 1,559). The possible confounding effects of selected risk factors (e.g., selling drugs, witnessing violence) also were examined. Findings suggest that racial differences in violent behavior only exist among young adults of low SES and that finer SES distinctions within this group do not explain these differences. However, exposure to violence, a correlate of SES, accounted for racial differences in this subgroup. Future studies on racial differences in violence should examine further the role of SES and related risk factors.
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This study examines the influence of race, gender, and type of legal counsel on juvenile court outcomes. Data from a sample of juvenile court referrals from two midwestern juvenile courts indicate that the effect of these factors varied by court location. The severity or leniency of the disposition outcome was determined by race, gender, type of legal counsel, and court location. This study clearly demonstrates the need for an approach that considers the interplay between legally relevant and legally irrelevant factors on juvenile justice decision making.
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Gottfredson and Hirschi's general theory of crime (1990) has generated an abundance of research testing the proposition that low self-control is the main cause of crime and analogous behaviors. Less empirical work, however, has examined the factors that give rise to low self-control. Gottfredson and Hirschi suggest that parents are the sole contributors for either fostering or thwarting low self-control in their children, explicitly discounting the possibility that genetics may play a key role. Yet genetic research has shown that ADHD and other deficits in the frontostriatal system are highly heritable. Our research thus tests whether “parents matter” in creating low self-control once genetic influences are taken into account. Using a sample of twin children we find that parenting measures have a weak and inconsistent effect. We address the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the failure to address genetic influences in parenting studies.
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The image of Asian-Americans as ''model minorities'' is driven, in part, by the high academic achievement of Asian-American children. To evaluate this characterization, I use the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) to compare Asian and white eighth graders on reading and math test scores and grades. Results indicate that the difference between Asians overall and whites on reading and math test scores can be explained by diffe