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Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline: A Framework for Intervention



Race and gender disparities in school discipline and associated harms have been well documented for decades. Suspension from school can reduce instructional time and impede academic progress for students who may already be lagging in their achievement. This chapter offers a research-based framework for increasing equity in school discipline. The framework is composed of ten principles that hold promise for helping educators to address student behavior in a developmentally appropriate manner and reduce race and gender disparities in school discipline. The framework also informs directions for future research in school discipline.
Review of Research in Education
March 2017, Vol. 41, pp. 253 –278
DOI: 10.3102/0091732X17690499
© 2017 AERA.
Chapter 11
Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline:
A Framework for Intervention
Anne GreGory
Rutgers University
russell J. skibA
Indiana University
kAvithA MedirAttA
Atlantic Philanthropies
Race and gender disparities in school discipline and associated harms have been well
documented for decades. Suspension from school can reduce instructional time and impede
academic progress for students who may already be lagging in their achievement. This
chapter offers a research-based framework for increasing equity in school discipline. The
framework is composed of ten principles that hold promise for helping educators to address
student behavior in a developmentally appropriate manner and reduce race and gender
disparities in school discipline. The framework also informs directions for future research
in school discipline.
Federal and state actions to reduce racial disparities in discipline respond to a
decade of findings (e.g., American Psychological Association Task Force, 2008)
on the ineffectiveness of exclusionary discipline in improving educational outcomes
and their disparate impact on students based on their racial/ethnic group member-
ship, thereby violating civil rights protections. Male and female Black students dis-
proportionately receive discipline referrals and out-of-school suspension (Fabelo
et al., 2011), most often at a rate two to three times greater than White students.
Disproportionate discipline has also been documented for males, Latinos, American
Indians, and students in special education (U.S. Department of Justice/Department
of Education, 2014). Recent research has raised concerns that lesbian, bisexual, gay,
and transgender students are also at heightened risk of receiving discipline sanctions
(Himmelstein & Bruckner, 2011; Poteat, Scheer, & Chong, 2015).
690499RREXXX10.3102/0091732X17690499Review of Research in EducationGregory et al.
254 Review of Research in Education, 41
Findings such as these have led policymakers and educators in school districts
across the country to examine how best to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline,
especially for students from marginalized groups. The rapid pace of reform has out-
stripped research and documentation. While some evaluations of district-level efforts
show significant reductions in rates of exclusionary discipline across racial–ethnic
groups (e.g., González, 2015; Osher, Poirier, Jarjoura, Brown, & Kendziora, 2015),
few investigations have focused specifically on the discipline gap and even fewer have
demonstrated a shrinkage of that gap.
We seek to inform current reforms through a systematic synthesis of promising
policies and practices for reducing disciplinary disparities. We draw on naturalistic
research and the few extant published intervention studies to propose the Framework
for Increasing Equity in School Discipline. The Framework includes 10 school prin-
ciples that hold promise for reducing race and gender disparities in school discipline.
We intentionally offer numerous principles that span many aspects of the ecology of
schooling. Narrow, singular interventions targeting only one aspect of schooling will
not likely disrupt entrenched patterns of racial and gender inequality. Thus, the prin-
ciples address varying levels of the school ecology including intrapersonal (educator
beliefs and attitudes), interpersonal (quality of individual and group interactions),
instructional (academic rigor, cultural relevancy and responsiveness of instruction),
and systems levels (access to behavioral supports and avenues for collaborative
approaches to resolving conflicts).
In describing the Frameworks principles, we distinguish between prevention and
intervention-oriented action. Schools that successfully develop communities of respon-
sive and supportive adults and motivated and engaged learners typically prevent disci-
plinary incidents and punitive responses to behavior from occurring in the first place
(Emmer & Sabornie, 2014). Yet, as with all communities, some conflict is inevitable.
When conflict happens, it can be addressed in a constructive and equitable manner.
Thus, 5 of the 10 principles address prevention, four are intervention oriented, laying
the groundwork for constructive responses to conflict and reduced unnecessary disci-
pline, and one addresses both prevention and intervention (see Table 1).
Without what might be called “culturally conscious implementation,” there is the
risk that advantaged students will reap the rewards of less punitive discipline policies
and practices while marginalized students continue to receive more punitive treatment.
Thus, we posit the need for culturally conscious implementation of the Frameworks 10
principles. This means educators need to explicitly consider issues of culture, race, gen-
der, power, and privilege in addressing inequality in schooling (Gay, 2010, Ladson-
Billings, 2009; C. S. Weinstein, Tomlinson-Clarke, & Curran, 2004; Winn, 2016).
We begin by reviewing emerging federal, state, and district reforms to describe the
current context for intervention. We then discuss the typical approaches to interven-
tion and argue the racial and gender gaps will only substantially reduce when educa-
tors undertake culturally conscious implementation of reforms. We then synthesize
available research that supports our selection of each of the 10 principles in the
Framework for Increasing Equity in School Discipline, and we offer some prelimi-
nary considerations about their culturally conscious implementation.
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 255
Evidence of the deleterious correlates of exclusionary discipline has continued to
grow. Multivariate and longitudinal studies demonstrate that exclusionary discipline
is a risk factor for a host of short- and long-term negative consequences, including
academic disengagement, depressed academic achievement, school dropout, and
increased involvement in the juvenile justice system (Skiba, Arredondo, & Williams,
Framework for Increasing Equity in School Discipline
Prevention 1. Supportive Relationships Authentic connections are forged
between and among teachers and
2. Bias-Aware Classrooms
and Respectful School
Inclusive, positive classroom and school
environments are established in which
students feel fairly treated.
3. Academic Rigor The potential of all students is
promoted through high expectations
and high-level learning opportunities.
4. Culturally Relevant and
Responsive Teaching
Instruction reflects and is respectful of
the diversity of today’s classrooms and
5. Opportunities for
Learning and Correcting
Behavior is approached from a
nonpunitive mind-set, and instruction
proactively strengthens student social
skills, while providing structured
opportunities for behavioral correction
within the classroom as necessary.
Intervention 6. Data-Based Inquiry for
Data are used regularly to identify
“hot spots” of disciplinary conflict
or differential treatment of particular
7. Problem-Solving
Approaches to Discipline
Solutions aim to uncover sources of
behavior or teacher–student conflict
and address the identified needs.
8. Inclusion of Student and
Family Voice on Conflicts’
Causes and Solutions
Student and family voice are integrated
into policies, procedures, and practices
concerning school discipline.
9. Reintegration of Students
after Conflict or Absence
Students are supported in reentering the
community of learners after conflict or
long-term absence has occurred.
10. Multitiered System of
Schools use a tiered framework to
match increasing levels of intensity
of support to students’ differentiated
Note. The numerical ordering of principles is not meant to suggest their relative importance.
256 Review of Research in Education, 41
2014). A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies found evidence of a link between in-
school and out-of-school suspension and low achievement (Noltemeyer, Ward, &
Mcloughlin, 2015).
Although concerns about racial disproportionality go back at least to the 1970s,
when the Childrens Defense Fund (1975) published a report on disparities in suspen-
sions for children of color, it was not until the late 1990s that the issue began to attract
wider notice. The current wave of reform has been field-driven in many ways. Young
people, parents, and civil rights advocates began documenting growing rates of suspen-
sions, expulsions and arrests in schools, and their disproportionate impact on students
of color (Mediratta, 2012) using the term school-to-prison pipeline to describe a pattern
of educational exclusion and justice system involvement (Ginwright, 2004). Efforts by
grassroots community groups such as Padres y Jóvenes Unidos in Denver, CADRE in Los
Angeles, and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education demonstrated not only the need for
reform but also how partnerships could be built with local schools and districts to
develop positive interventions and supports to manage student behavior (Padres y
Jóvenes Unidos & Advancement Project, 2010; Rogers & Terriquez, 2013).
By 2014, research and advocacy had established that exclusionary discipline in
U.S. public schools constituted a problem of serious proportions. Faced with evi-
dence of the widespread use of these sanctions and the extreme disparities for stu-
dents of color, policymakers have begun to implement national, state, and local
initiatives to reduce rates of suspension and expulsion and increase the use of alterna-
tives (Losen & Martinez, 2013; Morgan, Salomon, Plotkin, & Cohen, 2014).
National Level
The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education launched the national Supportive
School Discipline Initiative to improve data collection, expand technical assistance,
and inform reform efforts by state and local officials (U.S. Department of Justice/
Department of Education, 2011). In January 2014, the two agencies jointly released a
two-part federal guidance document with recommended practices for fostering sup-
portive and equitable school discipline. Most recently, Congress passed the Every
Student Succeeds Act (ESSA S. 1177), which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary
School Act and includes a number of provisions intended to reduce disciplinary exclu-
sion and disparities in exclusion. Every Student Succeeds Act identifies school climate
as an indicator of student success, requires local education agencies to detail how they
will reduce the overuse of exclusionary discipline, and permits districts to use federal
funding for intervention services such as parent engagement, school-based mental
health services, and multitiered systems of support (Capatosto, 2015).
State-Level Changes
States and school districts across the nation have taken action concurrently with
the federal-level changes. Often driven by local advocates, at least 17 states have
passed legislation on discipline and climate in recent years (Colombi & Osher, 2015).
Provisions in state law aim to do the following:
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 257
Limit out-of-school suspension and expulsion: California passed measures to curtail
the use of suspension, expulsion and referral to law enforcement, and most
recently a bill (AB420) that eliminates willful defiance as a reason for suspension,
which has been associated with particularly extreme levels of disparities (California
Department of Education, 2015).
Collect disaggregated data and reduce disparities in exclusionary discipline: In 2014,
Illinois mandated the reporting of disaggregated data on discipline and, begin-
ning in 2017, requires districts in the top 20% of use of exclusionary discipline
to submit an improvement plan for reducing exclusion and racial disparities
(State of Illinois, 2014).
Implement alternatives to suspension and expulsion: Building on a pilot program in
Denver, the state of Colorado has expanded the use of restorative justice (RJ) in
programs throughout the state (Restorative Justice Colorado, 2015).
School District Reform Efforts
Attempts to reform school disciplinary practices have also made their way to the
district level. District-wide reform has been documented in numerous school districts
across the country, including the following:
Denver: Beginning in 2005, the Denver Public Schools, in partnership with the
advocacy group Padres & Jovenes Unidos, implemented RJ practices in selected
pilot schools and later expanded them to much of the district (Padres y Jóvenes
Unidos & Advancement Project. 2005). Between 2006 and 2013, the overall
suspension rate dropped from 10.58% to 5.63%, and the gap between Black and
White students decreased from a 12- to 8-point gap (González, 2015).
Oakland: In 2005, the Oakland Unified School District initiated a pilot program
of RJ at Cole Middle School and saw an 87% decrease in suspensions in three
years (Sumner, Silverman, & Frampton, 2010). By 2014, they expanded the pro-
gram to 24 schools. In the middle and high schools with RJ programming, sus-
pensions decreased by 23% between 2010 and 2013, and dropout rates declined
by 56% (Jain, Bassey, Brown, & Kalra, 2014).
Los Angeles Unified School District: This was among the first large urban districts
to substantially revise its Code of Conduct, and data show declines in suspension
and expulsion (
Stokes and Baer (1977) first identified the strategy of “train and hope” to describe
the faulty assumptions behind efforts to generalize individual’s behavior change, argu-
ing that attempting to teach an individual a new behavior and then hoping it will
generalize to other settings, times, or individuals is not an effective strategy for ensur-
ing generalizable change. In the same way, many strategies for addressing disparate
outcomes in school might be termed “implement and hope”—taking a strategy that
258 Review of Research in Education, 41
has shown positive outcomes for students in general, and assuming it will be equally
effective in (that is, generalize to) reducing racial/ethnic disparities. The “implement
and hope” strategy is so deeply engrained that data often are not disaggregated, pre-
cluding tracking, and assessment of implementation effects on target populations.
Indeed, one recent report described how fewer than half of Schoolwide Positive
Behavior Intervention Support (SWPBIS) schools that entered ethnicity enrollment
information into their SWPBIS data system examined disaggregated discipline data by
group even once during the school year (McIntosh, Eliason, Horner, & May, 2014).
Evidence suggests that, even in the case of empirically based interventions, imple-
mentation without explicit attention to addressing disparities is like its individual
analogue, unlikely to reduce discipline disparities. Studying a nationally representa-
tive sample of 346 elementary and middle schools implementing SWPBIS for at least
1 year, Skiba et al. (2011) found that Black students remained twice as likely as their
White peers to be referred to the office, and that Latino and Black students were
more likely than White students to receive suspensions or expulsions as a conse-
quence for similar behaviors, especially for minor misbehavior. Vincent, Swain-
Bradway, Tobin, and May (2011) found that, even in schools in which SWPBIS
decreased overall school rates of out-of-school suspension, Black students continued
to be overrepresented in out-of-school suspensions, particularly suspensions longer
than 10 days. Such data underscore the need for explicit consideration of issues of
culture, power, and privilege in addressing inequality in schooling (Gay, 2010,
Ladson-Billings, 2009; C. S. Weinstein et al., 2004; Winn, 2016). The failure to cre-
ate equitable outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic backgrounds has led to recom-
mendations for better integration of sociocultural aspects in the design,
implementation, and interpretation of interventions (Olmeda & Kauffman, 2003;
Harris-Murri, King, & Rostenberg, 2006).
Carter, Skiba, Arredondo, and Pollock (2015) argue that schools cannot effec-
tively target racial disparities in discipline without addressing longstanding issues of
race and power. They write,
It is impossible to tell the full story of racial discipline disparities without considering the full range of
racialized historical and current factors that shape school life in the United States. The ravages of slavery
and Jim Crow, forced migration, and policies that enforced unequal treatment placed African Americans
and most people of color at an economic and social disadvantage that persists to this day. (p. 2)
They continue,
Regrettably, our history also left us with pervasive and false ideas about “races” that have shaped our
perceptions of who is valued and who is not, who is capable and who is not, and who is “safe” and who is
“dangerous.” (p. 2)
Winn (2011) and Morris (2016) also point out that efforts to disrupt the school-to-
prison pipeline need to address the varying forms of discrimination that thwart the
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 259
positive development of youth depending on their identities and social locations
(e.g., race, gender, social class, sexual and gender identity). Together, these scholars
raise the importance of considering the interacting sociohistorical forces that contrib-
ute to the current disparities in school discipline. According to Carter et al. (2015),
such considerations extend to how we approach affecting change. Specifically, they
call for a race-conscious approach to intervention. We expand on their call and posit
the need for a “culturally conscious” approach to implementing reforms. A handful
of tenets underlie our conceptualization of “culturally conscious implementation”:
1. We use the term “culture” broadly, referencing the beliefs and behaviors of
groups that are bound to history and are passed down from generation to gen-
eration. We also see that students and educators in schools perpetuate beliefs
and behavior through their own shared culture. For instance, educators can
share implicit beliefs that punishment is the appropriate response to student
2. Interactions among educators, family, and students are sociohistorically situated
within a longstanding history of racial and class segregation and unequal school-
ing (Carter et al., 2015). As Ladson-Billings (2006) describes, achievement gaps
reflect the “educational debt” that has accrued over time. Thus, culturally con-
scious implementation considers the differential access marginalized groups have
had to high quality schooling given the current and historical legacy of racial and
socioeconomic segregation in neighborhoods and schools.
3. Sociocultural and historical narratives shape perceptions and judgements about
the “appropriateness” of behavior. Bal, Thorius, and Kozleski (2012) write,
“Racial minority students’ experiences and cultural and linguistic practices (i.e.,
ways of knowing, behaving, and being) are often devalued and/or pathologized
. . .” (p. 4). In terms of discipline, this means that students of color can be subject
to differential selection–their behavior can be “selected” for punishment (Gregory,
Skiba & Noguera, 2010). For example, teachers’ culturally based judgments
about dress, speech, vocal tone, and body language can fuel whether or not a
teacher “reads” Black students’ behavior as defiant or disruptive (Neal, McCray,
Webb-Johnson, & Bridgest, 2003). Dominant beliefs about what it means to
display appropriate female behavior can also affect treatment toward students.
For example, Morris (2016) describes adults’ negative appraisals of Black females
who are loud or have an “attitude”—negative appraisals which, according to
Morris, come from a lack of understanding of Black girls’ desire to be heard and
seen in the context of gender and race oppression.
4. While Black/White disparities in school discipline have been documented in
U.S. public schools for over four decades (Childrens Defense Fund, 1975), dis-
proportionate discipline has also been documented for a range of other groups
including males, Latinos, American Indians, students in special education, and
lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender students (Anyon et al., 2014; Himmelstein
& Bruckner, 2011; Poteat et al., 2015; Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, & Bachman,
2008). This raises concerns about how “difference” is policed in schools and
260 Review of Research in Education, 41
indicates the need for an intersectional lens to understand how expectations/
norms for “respectable” behavior span varying aspects of identity (Snapp &
Russell, 2016). For instance, gender–non-conforming girls of color who identify
as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer may challenge many adults’ behavioral expec-
tations based on White, heterosexual, hyperfeminine forms of self-presentation
(Chmielewski, Belmonte, Stoudt, & Fine, 2016).
5. Racism and negative stereotypes are powerful influences on the punitive treatment
of students of color. Indeed, Black male and female students are subject to harsher
sanctions than their White peers, even when controlling for the seriousness of their
infractions (Skiba et al., 2014), the frequency of being involved in discipline inci-
dents (Anyon et al., 2014), and the levels of teacher-reported misbehavior
(Bradshaw, Mitchell, O’Brennan, & Leaf, 2010). Moreover, a recent statewide
study showed that Black females had 13% higher odds of discipline in a year than
White males, accounting for student grade retention and student- and school-level
poverty (Blake et al., 2016). This body of research demonstrates that Black stu-
dents are treated more harshly when compared to similar students, suggesting that
race, in the form of stereotypes and implicit bias, affects everyday interactions in
school (Carter et al., 2015). Thus, culturally conscious implementation efforts
need to further recognize differential sanction of marginalized groups.
Studies of the effects of interventions currently are too few in number to support a
meta-analysis. Yet the extensive research on the existence and causes of disparities in
discipline (Losen, 2015; Skiba, Mediratta, & Rausch, 2016) makes it possible to iden-
tify research-based principles on which intervention to reduce disciplinary data can be
based. Below, we present a framework of 10 research-based principles for disparity-
reducing intervention in schools. The following 10 principles were identified in a
review of research by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative, a
group of 26 researchers, policymakers, educators, and advocates (Discipline Disparities
Collaborative, 2015). Eight of these 10 principles were presented in prior publications
from the Discipline Disparities Collaborative (Gregory, Bell, & Pollock, 2016).
The Framework’s principles are not exhaustive, and future theory and research
may augment or condense them. With that caveat in mind, we explore the extent of
empirical support for each of the 10 principles, drawing findings from studies using
a wide range of methodologies (ethnography to randomized controlled trials). In
addition, we consider how each practice relates specifically to disparities in school
discipline for marginalized groups. We draw on the extant research which largely
compares the experience of Black and White students, but when possible, we also
draw from more recent research which identifies disparities in rates of exclusionary
discipline for other racial/ethnic categories (e.g., Latino, American Indian), and by
gender, disability status, and sexual orientation and gender identity (Skiba et al.,
2016). We also offer some preliminary ideas that relate to the culturally conscious
implementation of each principle in the Framework.
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 261
Principle 1: Supportive Relationships
A convincing accumulation of research has shown that students who feel sup-
ported by their teachers tend to be more engaged in academic work and have fewer
disciplinary interactions with adults in school, relative to their peers who experience
less support. Two meta-analyses have substantiated the link between the affective
dimension of teacher–student relationships and student engagement in school.
Examining results across 119 studies, Cornelius-White (2007) found that teacher
empathy (r = .32) and warmth (r = .32) were associated with positive student out-
comes. In a meta-analysis of 99 studies, Roorda, Koomen, Spilt, and Oort (2011)
found medium to large effects for both positive relationships and engagement (r =
.39, p < .01) and negative relationships and engagement (r = −.32, p < .01). Of par-
ticular concern is the likelihood that negative relationships with teachers in the early
years of schooling may have cumulative adverse effects across grade levels (Hamre &
Pianta, 2001; Rubie-Davies et al., 2014).
A recent randomized control trial of a teacher coaching program demonstrated
that strengthening relationships made a difference for students in groups who receive
high rates of discipline. In the My Teaching Partner–Secondary (MTP-S) program,
teachers were randomly assigned to a business-as-usual or a coaching condition
(Gregory, Hafen, et al., 2016). Coaches worked individually with teachers to increase
the emotional, organizational, and instructional supports in their classrooms. During
the 2 years of coaching and the year after coaching was discontinued, the MTP-S
teachers issued discipline referrals to Black and non-Black students at similarly low
rates. The control teachers, in contrast, had a large racial gap in discipline referrals. In
classrooms where teachers improved in observed sensitivity to students’ social and
emotional needs, Black students were less likely to be issued a disciplinary referral
than their peers in classrooms where teachers showed less improvement. We might
speculate that MTP-S teachers developed trusting relationships with their Black stu-
dents—treating them as individuals and possibly disrupting negative behavioral ste-
reotypes about Black students.
Culturally Conscious Implementation
Given that the teaching force in the United States is predominantly White and
female (Goldring, Gray, & Bitterman, 2013), educators need to ensure that they are
attuned to the social and emotional experiences of students of color in an intentional
manner. This is underscored by the growing body of evidence demonstrating that
Latino and Black students are less likely than White students to report feeling cared
about by an adult at school (Bottiani, Bradshaw, & Mendelson, 2014; Fan, Williams,
& Corkin, 2011; Voight, Hanson, O’Malley, & Adekanyel, 2015).
Principle 2: Bias-Aware Classrooms and Respectful School Environments
Emerging findings raise the possibility that educators’ disciplinary decision mak-
ing may be influenced by implicit racial bias—unconsciously held negative
262 Review of Research in Education, 41
associations linked to racial stereotypes. A meta-analysis of 184 studies of implicit
bias concluded that, generally speaking, implicit bias predicts differential treatment
of dissimilar individuals (Greenwald, Poehlman, Uhlmann, & Banaji, 2009). A
recent experimental study found a link between race and teacher perceptions of stu-
dent behavior. Teachers were shown an office discipline referral for a student with
two incidents of misconduct, the name of the disciplined student varied between
those that are stereotypically Black (Darnell or Deshawn) and White (Greg or Jake;
Okonofua & Eberhardt, 2015). Teachers responded with more severe disciplinary
actions to students with stereotypically Black names than those with names that are
stereotypically White. Okonofua and Eberhardt (2015) also found that the more
likely teachers were to think the student was Black, the more likely they were to label
the student a troublemaker. Goff, Jackson, Di Leone, Culotta, and DiTomasso
(2014) found that Black boys are generally viewed as older and more culpable than
White peers, and that the characteristic of innocence, typically associated with child-
hood, is less frequently applied to Black boys relative to White boys.
A recent randomized field experiment demonstrates how respectful teacher inter-
actions may reduce negative disciplinary outcomes of marginalized students
(Okonofua, Paunesku, & Walton, 2016). Okonofua et al. (2016) randomly assigned
39 math teachers to an empathic mind-set intervention or a control condition (an
intervention about the use of technology to promote learning). In the empathic
mind-set intervention, teachers read an article and student testimonials on a range of
nonpejorative factors that affect student misconduct and how positive relationships
with teachers help students thrive. The teachers were then asked to write about how
they use these ideas in their own practice and were told their written contributions
would be integrated into the teacher training program. The aim of the empathic
mind-set intervention was to increase teachers’ perspective taking about student mis-
conduct and promote a context of trust and understanding. Findings showed that
males and Black and Latino students in classrooms of teachers in the empathic mind-
set intervention were half as likely to receive a suspension relative to their peers in the
control teachers’ classrooms that school year (boys 8.4% vs. 14.6% and Black/
Latinos: 6.3% vs. 12.3%, respectively). Importantly, students with histories of sus-
pension felt more respected by math teachers in the empathic mind-set intervention
versus the control intervention.
Culturally Conscious Implementation
Adolescents may be particularly adept at detecting unfair treatment based on
implicit bias and negative stereotyping (Brown & Bigler, 2005), and these percep-
tions may in turn affect their disengagement or active resistance to authority in school
(Yeager et al., 2014). This may be particularly salient for students of color. Based on
interviews with Black girls, Morris (2016) discusses how their behavior can be a dem-
onstration of resistance to gender and racial oppression. She writes, “The ‘attitude
often attributed to Black girls casts as undesirable the skills of being astute at reading
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 263
their location—where they sit along the social hierarchy—and overcoming the atten-
dant obstacles” (p. 19). She further states, “To be ‘loud’ is to be heard. To have ‘atti-
tude’ is to reject a doctrine of invisibility and mistreatment” (p. 19). Morris’s
theorizing suggests that efforts to raise awareness about bias should include consider-
ing how deeply ingrained culturally bound notions of “appropriate” behavior may
impact everyday interactions.
Principle 3: Academic Rigor
When students are engaged in and excited about academic activities, school disci-
pline referrals are typically rare (Emmer & Sabornie, 2014). Cornelius-White’s
(2007) meta-analysis of 199 studies found that teachers’ encouragement of higher
order thinking (r = .29) and learning (r = .23) was associated with positive student
outcomes. Access to instructionally rich and motivating classrooms, however, are not
evenly distributed across student groups (e.g., Kena et al., 2015). Comparing the
experiences of high- and low-tracked students, Wing (2006) found that high-achiev-
ing classrooms, composed of predominantly White and Asian students, had lively
teacher and student engagement with interactive teaching styles and student auton-
omy, while more remedial classes, composed of predominantly Black and Latino
students, emphasized tight management of behavior over student autonomy.
The results from two recent studies indicate that efforts to reduce racial disparities
in discipline need to include providing more equitable access to rigorous and interac-
tive curriculum and instruction (Card & Giuliano, 2016; Gregory et al., 2016).
Evaluating the effects of a tracking program using a regression discontinuity research
design, Card and Giuliano (2016) compared outcomes between fourth- and fifth-
grade students who were placed into gifted/high-achiever classrooms or into general
education classrooms in a large urban school district. Relative to similar peers, Black
students in the gifted/high-achiever classrooms made greater achievement gains and
were less likely to receive suspension through sixth grade. Gregory et al.’s (2016)
randomized control trial of MTP-S further corroborates the finding that access to
cognitively rich and motivating instruction reduces students’ risk of receiving a disci-
pline sanction. Teachers in the MTP-S coaching condition had no significant racial
disparities in office discipline referrals compared with a large racial gap in discipline
referrals among teachers in the control condition. Mediational analyses showed that
the degree to which teachers were observed facilitating higher level thinking skills,
problem solving, and metacognition was significantly linked to their equitable and
infrequent use of discipline referrals.
Culturally Conscious Implementation
Efforts to increase access to academic rigor often take the form of ensuring stu-
dents from marginalized groups have opportunities to enroll in advanced or honors-
level coursework in high school (Handwerk, Tognatta, Coley, & Gitomer, 2008).
While important, this singular focus is narrow and does not address the subtle ways
264 Review of Research in Education, 41
marginalized students can be denied access to academic rigor in special education and
general education classrooms. Culturally conscious efforts to increase academic rigor,
therefore, should address how teacher beliefs about marginalized students’ academic
potential can impact everyday interactions that result in their receiving subpar
instructional opportunities and content (R. S. Weinstein, 2002).
Principle 4: Culturally Relevant and Responsive Teaching
Culturally relevant and responsive instruction has been identified as a positive
predictor of student outcomes in increasingly diverse classrooms. Gay (2010) argues
that culturally responsive teachers acquire knowledge about their students’ cultural
and social history and build trust with their students by communicating an under-
standing of their lives. This in turn helps them both understand student behavior and
design instruction that helps students process their experiences of inequality and
marginalization. C. S. Weinstein et al.’s (2004) model of culturally responsive class-
room management consists of five components: (a) teacher recognition of their own
ethnocentrism, (b) development of caring classroom communities, (c) incorporation
of students’ cultural backgrounds in classroom learning experiences, (d) classroom
management strategies that are in synch with those backgrounds, and (e) teacher
understanding of the social, economic, and political issues facing their students.
Empirical evidence for the promise of culturally relevant and responsive teaching in
reducing disparities in school discipline primarily arises from small-scale qualitative
studies of classrooms and small groups of teachers. Researchers have provided rich
descriptions of how culturally responsive relationships elicit student engagement and
cooperation (Aronson & Laughter, 2016; Howard, 2010). Ethnographic research with
eight female teachers of mostly Black youth by Ladson-Billings (2009) found that
teachers who most effectively engaged their Black male students in a culturally respon-
sive manner were those that (a) affirmed and celebrated their culture, (b) integrated
students’ life experiences into the curriculum, and (c) communicated high academic
expectations while scaffolding rigorous academic work. Using this perspective, the
Oakland Unified School District developed the Manhood Development Program, an
in-school elective for Black male students, which aims to foster positive cultural iden-
tities, social and emotional competence, and academic skills (Watson, 2014).
Although theory has outpaced empirical studies in this area, a growing number of
related studies link student participation in culturally relevant coursework with sub-
sequent academic outcomes. Kisker et al. (2012) argue that culturally relevant course-
work, such as ethnic studies, is meaningful and engaging to students whose cultural
heritage is not recognized or honored in typical curricula. Using data from a large
urban district in a regression discontinuity design study, Dee and Penner (2016)
compared the trajectories of similarly low-achieving ninth graders who were or were
not assigned to an ethnic studies course. Their sample consisted of 1,405 students
(60% Asian, 23% Latino, 6% Black) in five unique school-year cohorts enrolled in
three high schools in San Francisco. They found that assignment to ethnic studies
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 265
increased attendance, grade point average, and ninth-grade credits earned.
Importantly, the findings held for students with prior school suspensions, offering
compelling evidence that culturally relevant courses can actually shift students’ edu-
cational trajectories.
Culturally Conscious Implementation
School curricula, schoolwide events, and library resources are forums for educa-
tors to present content that is relevant to students’ lives. A culturally conscious
approach is not limited to making content relevant to only one aspect of students’
identity (e.g., ethnicity). Instead, it considers the need to connect with the range of
racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, and sexual identities and experiences of students and
communities (e.g., Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, 2011). Also, it is
not limited to increasing the relevancy of content. A culturally conscious approach
includes reflecting on how interactions in classrooms have a cultural basis that aligns
or misaligns with varying student communities (e.g., Boykin, Tyler, & Miller, 2005).
For example, the Double Check teacher coaching program aims to support teachers
in such critical reflection and is currently being evaluated in a randomized controlled
trial in elementary and middle schools (Bradshaw, Pas, & Debnam, 2015; Hershfeldt
et al., 2010).
Principle 5: Opportunities for Learning and Correcting Behavior
A stream of professional development programming draws on behavioral theory
and the strategic use of extrinsic rewards to help schools utilize a behavioral-supports
approach to student behavior (Kamps et al., 2015; Sugai & Horner, 2010). When
educators respond with specific praise to desired behavior, students tend to decrease
disruptive behavior and increase the reinforced behavior (e.g., Walker, Ramsey, &
Gresham, 2004). For example, in the Class Wide Function–related Intervention
Teams program (CW-FIT), teachers use a social skills game format and reward teams
of students who demonstrate social skills taught through direct instruction (Kamps
et al., 2015). Similarly, in SWPBIS, school staff teach all students jointly agreed-on,
schoolwide expectations for behavior (e.g., be respectful) and issue students tangible
reinforcers for positive behavior such as tickets that earn them special privileges. Both
CW-FIT and SWPBIS have been shown to reduce disruptive behavior (Bradshaw,
Mitchell, & Leaf, 2010; Kamps et al., 2015). Through such programming, adult
behavior may also change. When educators intentionally increase their focus on, and
praise of, positive student behavior they may shift away from reprimands and puni-
tive mind-sets (Bradshaw, Mitchell, O’Brennan, et al., 2010).
Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs draw on theory about the develop-
ment of self-discipline through social and emotional competencies (Bear, Whitcomb,
Elias, & Blank, 2015). Evidence that students’ SEL skills in early childhood are
closely tied to their later well-being (Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015) has pro-
vided momentum for revised discipline policies and new practices that offer students
266 Review of Research in Education, 41
greater opportunities to learn and practice social and emotional “literacies.” A meta-
analysis found that SEL programs can strengthen students’ SEL skills which in turn
relate to a range of positive outcomes (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, &
Schellinger, 2011).
Culturally Conscious Implementation
When schools offer more opportunities for students to learn SEL skills and correct
behavior, it needs to be recognized that the selected SEL skills and expectations are
culturally based and infused with a value system. Educators prioritize culturally laden
types of SEL skills and, therefore, may unintentionally marginalize certain forms of
cultural expression (Morris, 2016). In addition, while schools often focus on devel-
oping students’ social and emotional competencies, there is a growing recognition
that educators need support to deepen their own social emotional competencies as
well as their skills in developing prosocial classrooms (Jennings & Frank, 2015,
Milner, 2014). Jennings and Frank (2015) argue that teachers with high social and
emotional competence have strong relationship-building skills and are better able to
develop mutual understanding with their students, consider multiple perspectives
during conflict, and resolve disputes with skill. Doing so in a culturally responsive
manner may help educators navigate diverse cultural norms and defuse or prevent
disciplinary interactions with marginalized students (Morris, 2016).
Principle 6: Data-Based Inquiry for Equity
Every Student Succeeds Act requires that state education agencies collect data
from local education agencies on a range of discipline-related issues, including “rates
of in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, school-related
arrests, referrals to law enforcement . . .” (Mandinach & Jackson, 2012, p. 47). While
the collection and examination of accountability data in schools is not new to federal
policy (Mandinach & Jackson, 2012), this is the first time that discipline outcomes
have been integrated into federal accountability efforts.
What is measured and tracked in accountability systems is an indicator of out-
comes that are valued. McIntosh et al.’s (2013) correlational study of 217 schools
across 14 states showed that SWPBIS teams’ use of data was a statistically significant
predictor of sustained SWPBIS implementation. The authors observe that the prac-
tice of regularly sharing data with the entire school staff likely communicated admin-
istration’s commitment to high-quality SWPBIS implementation to achieve improved
student outcomes.
Culturally Conscious Implementation
States and localities that collect, disaggregate, and share discipline data signal the
importance of identifying and addressing discipline disparities. In response to advo-
cates’ demands for greater transparency, state legislatures are increasing public access
to disaggregated discipline data (e.g., Washington State, 2015) and districts are
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 267
beginning to use data in a process of goal setting and continuous improvement (e.g.,
Meridian Consent Order, 2013). To support these efforts, the federally funded
National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments recently issued recom-
mendations on using data to reduce discipline disparities that include data analysis,
identifying root causes and developing an action plan (Osher et al., 2015). Identifying
patterns in the data can help educators strategically direct their intervention efforts to
address the specific issues that are causing high racial and gender disparities in disci-
plinary referrals (Scott, Hirn, & Barber, 2012).
Principle 7: Problem-Solving Approaches to Discipline
When school community members come together to identify contributors to dis-
cipline incidents and jointly develop plans to help resolve those incidents, they are
engaging in a problem-solving approach to discipline. For example, teachers, special-
ists, and/or parents might collaborate in a problem-solving process to understand
individual students’ academic or behavioral challenges (Sheridan et al., 2012).
Moreover, inquiry into what drives student behavior may, in itself, build trust and
shared respect when students are given the opportunity to offer their “side of the
story” (Sheets, 1996). Problem-solving approaches also may help uncover unad-
dressed learning or mental health needs of students who are typically “criminalized”
or punished, resulting in more appropriate supports or trauma-informed care (Phifer
& Hull, 2016; Ramey, 2015).
Research on problem-solving processes has been conducted on a schoolwide pro-
gram, Virginia Threat Assessment Guidelines (e.g., Cornell, 2013). A recent study
found that the suspension gap between Black and White students narrowed when
schools implemented a threat assessment team, which is a multidisciplinary team of
school staff available to help students involved in a crisis or a conflict that included a
threat of violence (Cornell, 2013). More recently, a statewide study of schools using
the threat assessment protocol in Virginia found no racial disparities in suspension,
expulsion, or arrest among students whose behavior prompted threat assessments
(Cornell et al., 2016).
School community members also might engage in RJ or restorative practice (RP),
which provides a structured process for problem solving in schools. For example, in a
responsive circle or restorative conference, participants typically answer a series of
restorative questions about a discipline incident (e.g., “Who has been affected by the
incident?”; “What do you think needs to happen to make things right?” Wachtel,
Costello, & Wachtel, 2009). Winn (2016) has proposed that RJ in the classroom may
not only disrupt punitive practices and racial inequality but also engage students, their
families, and school staff in critical dialogue about “notions of citizenship, belonging,
and worthiness that can impact teacher practice and student learning” (p. 5).
Case studies of schools implementing RJ/RP in the United States and internation-
ally document schoolwide reductions in exclusionary discipline (e.g., Anyon et al.,
2014; International Institute of Restorative Practices, 2014). As of yet, however, there
268 Review of Research in Education, 41
is not enough empirical evidence to claim that RJ/RP, as currently implemented,
results in substantial reductions in race and gender discipline disparities. A few stud-
ies of districts using RJ have shown that Black students had the greatest decline in the
suspension rates, relative to other student groups (González, 2015; Jain et al., 2014).
Yet, persistent and large Black/White suspension gaps in these districts and the
uneven implementation across district schools suggests that more research is needed
to understand the potential of RJ and how to implement it with high fidelity across
schools (Anyon et al., 2014; Gregory & Clawson, 2016).
Culturally Conscious Implementation
When implementing problem-solving approaches to conflict educators need to vigi-
lantly watch for how such reforms can revert to shaming, punitive processes that do not
authentically engage the voices of marginalized youth and their families. In other words,
collaborative problem solving may become part of discipline policy, but in the day-to-
day, they may be implemented in a superficial manner that masks hidden agendas
reflecting the traditional, underlying stance toward punishment and exclusion.
Moreover, culturally conscious implementation of problem-solving approaches need to
explicitly address issues of power and privilege. For example, the Oakland Unified
School District’s RJ implementation guide indicates that a social justice orientation to
RJ includes acknowledging that race, gender, and sexual orientation inequities of the
larger society impact students’ academic and life outcomes, recognizing historical harms
when appropriate, and ensuring students in marginalized groups have forums where
their concerns can be effectively addressed (Yusem et al., 2016).
Principle 8: Inclusion of Student and Family Voice on
Causes and Solutions of Conflicts
A number of school districts are revising their school discipline policies to improve
student and family engagement in the disciplinary process (e.g., Syracuse City School
District, Student Code of Conduct, Character, and Support). This area of policy reform
is supported by a diverse body of research demonstrating the feasibility of student
and family engagement in addressing discipline incidents and behavioral challenges
(e.g., Patton, Jolivette, & Ramsey, 2006). Schools can integrate student voice and
family perspectives in many different ways—for example, students might set their
own behavioral goals and self-monitor their progress (Patton et al., 2006) or lead a
restorative circle with their classmates to address a problem in the classroom (Wachtel
et al., 2009). Research has demonstrated that students are more likely to cooperate
when they feel fairly treated by teachers (Gregory & Ripski, 2008; Sheets, 1996).
Moreover, they tend to be more engaged and motivated in classrooms where they are
allowed to express their opinions and exhibit autonomy (Reeve, 2009). Similarly,
respectfully engaging family perspectives to help address discipline incidents can
build trust and increase the likelihood of a positive resolution to disciplinary inci-
dents (Sheridan et al., 2012).
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 269
Culturally Conscious Implementation
Integrating student and family perspectives into the disciplinary process may be
especially important for building trust between educators and students from marginal-
ized groups. Several recent studies show that Black and Latino students report less
adult support in school compared with their White peers (Bottiani et al., 2014; Voight
et al., 2015). Ethnic minority parents also have reported the need for educators to
engage them in a respectful and culturally competent manner (National Education
Association of the United States, 2010). Respectful and regular engagement of histori-
cally disenfranchised voices in school could engender the type of trust needed for
constructive collaboration to prevent or diffuse disciplinary interactions that fuel race
and gender disparities in discipline (Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Winn, 2016).
Principle 9: Reintegration of Students After Conflict or Absence
Rearrest rates of youth released from the juvenile justice system have highlighted
the need for “reentry programs” (Bonnie, Johnson, Chemers, & Schuck, 2013). Osher,
Amos, and Gonsoulin (2012) recommend that supports for formerly incarcerated
youth engage members from the student’s “ecology” to help them successfully reinte-
grate into their schools and communities. Bullis, Yovanoff, Mueller, and Havel (2002)
followed youth after their release and found that those who received appropriate after-
care services—mental health, substance abuse treatment, educational supports, and
others—were more than three times as likely to be positively engaged in their com-
munity after 12 months, relative to their released peers without such services.
Disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline requires reducing students’ odds of rear-
rest and repeated suspensions. This is especially important since state rearrest rates
can be as high as 50% to 80% for high-risk youth over a 1- to 3-year follow-up period
(Seigle, Walsh, & Weber, 2014). Reductions in rearrest would be especially beneficial
to students in groups who are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system, includ-
ing Black youth, who account for half of all juvenile arrests for violent crimes (U.S.
Department of Justice/Department of Education, 2014).
Culturally Conscious Implementation
Recognizing the risk associated with transitions back to school, some districts have
taken steps to create formal reentry procedures for students returning from long-term
suspensions. From 2013 to 2014, the Oakland Unified School District provided RJ
programming to students as part of a formal reentry procedure after incarceration, invol-
untary transfer, or suspension (Jain et al., 2014). Students were offered individual meet-
ings or reentry circles including teachers, counselors, friends, and family to welcome
them back into the school community and proactively provide wraparound supports.
Culturally conscious supports need to also consider the multiple interacting stressors
students face as relate to their social positioning. For example, gender-conscious reentry
programs for girls released from juvenile detention might address girls’ needs for repro-
ductive health education/support or treatment for sexual abuse (Winn, 2011).
270 Review of Research in Education, 41
Principle 10: Multitiered System of Supports
Finally, schools across the nation are implementing multitiered systems of support
(MTSS) to provide a comprehensive approach to prevention and intervention
(MTSS; Vincent, Inglish, Girvan, Sprague, & McCab, 2016). The MTSS approach
offers districts a systematic way to track data and provide prevention and intervention
services that reduce exclusionary responses to student behavior. The emphasis on
providing access to supports when students exhibit behaviors that violate school rules
and expectations is especially needed for students in groups overrepresented in disci-
pline sanctions (Ramey, 2015).
MTSS is characterized by a tiered framework, drawn from public health, that cali-
brates the intensity of behavioral supports to students’ behavioral needs, with more
intensive supports offered when more general strategies fail to resolve the problem.
For example, when students are not responsive to Tier 1 social and behavioral pro-
grams in the classroom, they can be referred to Tier 2 interventions in small groups
or individual sessions outside of the classroom (Bradshaw et al., 2014). SWPBIS is
the most widely disseminated and extensively studied MTSS (Vincent et al., 2016),
but the multitiered framework has also been used with other types of positive disci-
pline programming such as RJ/RP programming (Jain et al., 2014).
The most extensive research on the promise of MTSS frameworks for reducing
disparities has been conducted within the SWPBIS framework. Experimental trials
have shown that implementing SWPBIS with fidelity can lead to reductions in nega-
tive student behavior and discipline referrals and suspensions (Bradshaw, Mitchell, &
Leaf, 2010; Horner et al., 2009). Despite the general positive outcomes associated
with SWPBIS, there have been inconsistent findings regarding discipline outcomes
for marginalized students (Vincent et al., 2016). For example, Black elementary stu-
dents have been found to have significantly greater odds of receiving a discipline
referral than White students in schools with SWPBIS, even as those schools reduce
disciplinary referrals in general (Bradshaw, Mitchell, O’Brennan, et al., 2010;
Kaufman et al., 2010).
Culturally Conscious Implementation
The inconsistent results from SWPBIS in reducing disparities have led research-
ers to highlight the promising results of SWPBIS when it is integrated with explic-
itly culturally conscious practices. For example, in five Canadian schools
implementing SWPBIS, Greflund, McIntosh, Mercer, and May (2014) found that
students with aboriginal status were no more likely to receive office disciplinary
referrals than their peers. Similarly, Vincent, Sprague, CHiXapkaid, Tobin, and Gau
(2015) identified several SWPBIS schools that had low suspension rates of American
Indian students, a group historically over-represented in exclusionary discipline.
The authors of both studies speculate that the racial equity in discipline in those
schools may be due to the culturally responsive adaptations to SWPBIS which
emphasized teacher training in cultural sensitivity, culturally relevant instruction,
Gregory et al.: Eliminating Disparities in School Discipline 271
and strong school relationships with parents and families (McIntosh, Moniz, Craft,
Golby, & Steinwand-Deschambeault, 2014).
Another promising direction is the integration of SWPBIS and RJ/RP. This
blended approach, School-Wide Positive and Restorative Discipline includes teacher
training about students’ need for positive relationships, fair treatment, and proce-
dural justice. School-Wide Positive and Restorative Discipline recently was piloted in
a high school that had been implementing SWPBIS with fidelity, yet had persistent
racial disparities in discipline (Vincent et al., 2016). Through online materials and
workshops, teachers learned about RJ/RP concepts (e.g., social capital, procedural
justice, restoring relationships), and building community through active listening,
classroom circles, and delivery of behavior-specific affective statements. Examining
end-of-year discipline referral rates, Vincent et al. (2016) reported reductions in
schoolwide referrals and racial disparities relative to the year prior.
We see the 10 principles in the Framework for Increasing Equity in School
Discipline as important considerations for parents, students, educators, and support
personnel who wish to shift disciplinary conflicts and consequences toward a more
positive school climate. For researchers, the 10 principles are launching points from
which to consider the possible “mechanisms of action” in current reform initiatives.
Researchers might examine whether select principles from the Framework mediate
the program impacts on reducing discipline gaps. In other words, it will be informa-
tive to know if a programs success is explained by its inclusion of one or more of the
principles (e.g., increasing bias awareness or access to academic rigor).
As of yet, there is insufficient empirical evidence to indicate which combination
of the 10 principles from the Framework should be implemented together, or which
principles might be prioritized over others to reduce gender and race disparities in
school discipline. Similarly, it is unknown whether principles from the multiple levels
of the school ecology combine in a synergistic manner or whether addressing one
level would “ripple out” and affect another level of the ecology. For example, does
increasing awareness of bias (intrapersonal level) lead to change at the interpersonal
level or at the systems level whereby punitive treatment of marginalized students is
reduced through changes in disciplinary practices and policies?
As relates to culturally conscious implementation of the principles, it is not yet
clear what level of attention to issues of gender, race, class, culture, power, and privi-
lege will be necessary to effectively close discipline gaps. Research on both positive
behavior supports (Vincent et al., 2016) and restorative justice (Gregory & Clawson,
2016; Winn, 2016) has begun to explore the extent to which explicit, culturally con-
scious modifications to standard models of those interventions are likely to have an
impact on discipline gaps. Moreover, it will be essential to identify the best ways to
undertake culturally conscious implementation given the research that shows diver-
sity-related initiatives do not necessarily lead to anticipated changes in attitudes,
beliefs, or behaviors (e.g., Dover, Major, & Kaiser, 2016).
272 Review of Research in Education, 41
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... Relatedly, research has also suggested that teacher attitudes, beliefs, and practices are potential levers for improving discipline enactment (Gregory, Skiba, and Mediratta 2017). Okonofua, Paunesku, and Walton (2016) conducted a randomised controlled trial of a brief professional development intervention meant to change mathematics teachers' mindsets around discipline responses, and their results indicated that teachers who approached discipline with an empathetic mindset reduced suspension disparities for boys and African American students. ...
... Targeting the complex and layered processes that uphold the whiteness and oppression underlying discipline disparities may result in more effectual responses to thus-far intractable inequities. Though the national spotlight has focused on discipline disparities in general, and extant literature has offered potential solutions (e.g., culturally conscious discipline; supportive teacher-student relationships; see Gregory, Skiba, and Mediratta 2017), there remains a dearth of school-based programs with empirical evidence of reducing the disparate punishment of marginalised students (Cruz, Firestone, and Rodl 2021). This may be partially due to conceptualisations of educational disparities that juxtapose minoritized groups against the dominant, majority (see Carter et al. 2017). ...
... One tenet of SWPBIS is that data must inform discipline decisions . Although this remains a central component of disparity-reduction frameworks (see Gregory, Skiba, and Mediratta 2017), recent randomised trials showed that simply sharing equity data (i.e., ODRs disaggregated by race/ethnicity) with stakeholders was insufficient to reduce ODR disparities (McIntosh et al. 2020). Rather, SWPBIS studies that used data analysis as a tool for reducing ODR disparities in tandem with the goal of transforming systems through action research showed promise in disrupting unfair discipline patterns. ...
Root causes of disproportionality in exclusionary discipline are multiply determined. Teachers’ perceptions and implicit biases, enacted within the contexts of schools as racialized organizations, shape how educators interpret and respond to student behavior. Focusing on the referral phase of the disciplinary process, this systematic review of theoretical frameworks applied in studies on discipline-disparity reduction uncovers how scholars have theorised the impacts of school-based programmes seeking to diminish inequities. We analysed research published between 1990 and 2021 to examine how empirically evaluated programs and their theoretical underpinnings have approached discipline disparities and their alignment with root causes established in the broader literature base. Our findings indicated that studies’ conceptual frameworks were commonly at odds with established theory regarding root causes, and we found a notable absence of frameworks related to schools as white, hegemonic spaces. We advocate that researchers apply conceptual frameworks that decenter whiteness, smartness, and goodness in schools.
... School discipline practices exist on a continuum that spans from prevention to postinfraction intervention. In considering this continuum, Gregory et al. (2017) developed an integrated framework for application in discipline disparity reduction, which includes prevention, intervention strategies, and structures that offer both. The framework identifies 10 requisite components for addressing disparities across the discipline continuum: (a) supportive relationships, (b) bias-aware classrooms, (c) academic rigor, (d) culturally relevant teaching, (e) opportunities for learning and correcting behavior within the classroom, (f) data-based programming, (g) problem-solving approaches to discipline, (h) inclusion of student and family voice, (i) reintegration after conflict, and (j) multitiered systems of support. ...
... Next, we performed hand searches of identified articles' reference lists to find additional studies potentially eligible for the synthesis. As aforementioned, some of the programs available have a substantial evidence base, including several literature reviews and meta-analyses (e.g., SWPBIS); thus, we conducted hand searches of these articles for relevant citations (Boneshefski & Runge, 2014;Bottiani et al., 2018;Bouchard & Wong, 2017;Cotter Stalker, 2017;Durlak et al., 2011;Fallon et al., 2012;Gage et al., 2018;Gregory et al., 2017;Mallett, 2016;Mitchell et al., 2018;Öğülmüş & Vuran, 2016;Welsh & Little, 2018). Search engines used included EBSCO, PsychINFO, ERIC, PubMed, and JSTOR. ...
... Although Gregory et al. (2017) outlined a limited description of systems that address both prevention and intervention (i.e., multitiered systems of support), we found several studies (k = 6) that comprised various systemic improvements meant to achieve reduction in ODRs and suspensions. Osher et al. (2014) studied the effects of comprehensive, district-wide interventions (e.g., student-centered planning teams, data-based decision making, and staffing schools with instructional coaches), and Hashim and colleagues (2018) studied a layered approach to discipline (i.e., the district began with SWPBIS, enacted policies banning suspension for defiance, and ultimately adopted a restorative justice philosophical approach). ...
... Although multidimensional strategies offer promising results, more practice based and comparative research is needed to assess the effectiveness of interventions specifically in preschool teacher training area (Gregory et al. 2010(Gregory et al. , 2017. Discussion around the results will contribute to good practice to support teachers/practitioners in early years education. ...
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It is strongly needed to enhance teacher training programs via extensive course content more specifically to improve classroom management skills of teacher candidates. In the current study, we aimed to evaluate effectiveness of an elective course grounded on various strategies and vital aspects of preventive interventions about classroom management competencies, professional beliefs, and emotion regulation skills of preschool teacher candidates. The research is a quasi-experimental field study with pretest–posttest, intervention-comparison groups design including combination of qualitative and quantitative datasets. The participant group consisted of 76 females and 4 males registered in a 4-year university degree preschool teacher training program. The intervention group received training including key aspects of social and emotional intervention programs widely used in preschool settings while the comparison group received training covering inclusive education principles and relevant practices. Findings showed a significant increase in proactive approaches and positive behavioral support rates in the intervention group, while the frequency of reactive approaches was lower than the comparison group. Contrary to expectations, we could not find any influence of the content on emotion regulation skills and teaching beliefs of the intervention group. Results show clear influence of elective course content on improved skills of preschool teacher candidates about classroom management approaches.
... There are a few educative factors analyzed to understand inequitable practices in K-12 schools, one being intentionality (Gregory et al., 2017). Whether it is ensuring that curriculum plans, materials and experiences are intentionally equitable or not, the way in which a student learns via educational materials may have bearing on how a student performs. ...
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate ways in which educator preparation programs can influence educator and administrator support of Open Education Resources (OER). OER is still not used as widely as the researchers would like, even though it was introduced in the year 2002 (Bliss and Smith, 2017). While it is rarely used to a large extent, it is especially lacking in K-12 schools. By introducing OER to educator candidates (including future principals) in their own programs, they may be supportive of OER and invest in them when they work in schools. Design/methodology/approach The research was conducted when an OER project was required in educator preparation programs. Two classes totaling 27 students engaged in a group project, creating OER materials and receptacles over the course of the semester. Findings Research showed that educator candidates were in favor of using OER thoroughly. Through building their own OER resources, educator candidates understood the importance of creating socially just and equitable learning environments, aligning with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, a project like this has not been researched before. This research supports the idea that usage of OER and investment in it should happen for all educator candidates (teachers and administrators).
... This implies that discipline status in community schools is still a problem and something should be done to reduce this. Gregory et al. (2017) on improving students discipline reveals that school authorities to put more efforts in reducing indiscipline cases so as to ensure that school environment focus on learning. This suggests the need for more cooperation among school and families in improving students' behaviour and discipline. ...
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Parents are key component in dealing with students’ discipline. Once parents get encompassed in student’s matters, students tend to have positive effects on their development, including discipline issues. However, their involvement is still low, which results into the increase of disciplinary cases in most community secondary schools. Thus, the study sought to assess the effectiveness of parental activities in students’ discipline management in community secondary schools in Misungwi district, Tanzania. The study used a mixed research approach and convergent parallel design. Data was obtained using questionnaires together with interview guides. The sample size of the study involved 101 respondents including teachers, parents, education quality assurance, ward education officers, students and students discipline leaders. Content and face validity were checked to establish the validity of research instruments. The questionnaires achieved a correlation coefficient of 0.81, which indicated high reliability of research instruments. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics with the help of (SPSS) version 20 and the qualitative data were analyzed through thematic analysis. The results revealed that parents played little role in providing guidance and counseling and teaching good moral rather than communicating with teachers. The study recommended that government under MoEST should provide education to parents on their roles so that they can voluntarily engage in students’ discipline management
Research suggests a crisis in Native American education. Disparities in academic success are well-documented and have persisted despite myriad intervention efforts. Utilizing a decolonial Youth Participatory Action Research methodology and mixed-methods design, a team of youth researchers and adult collaborators conducted iterative rounds of participatory education, data collection, and analysis. Through this process, we generated evidence of Native-specific school pushout practices or what we call “punches” delivered by the institution: schooling designed for dispossession, curricular harm, disproportionate discipline, and microaggressions/racism. Collectively, our findings support alternative interpretations of the crisis in Native American education and suggest the institution itself must be placed at the epicenter; schools must be accountable to their co-creation of this crisis. We recommend strategies to address these structural factors and pursue educational justice for Native youth.
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The Delphi method (DM) was initially conceived as a forecasting technique whose results are based on the consensus of a panel of experts. It has been used in many fields, assisting researchers, policymakers, and others in setting directions and future agendas. This study presents an application of the DM, with a broader interpretation of the notion of "expert" as a qualitative tool to explore gender issues in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Its aim is to analyze the use of the DM as a technique to achieve agreement among a group of early-career researchers from the UK and Mexico, who are not considered "experts" in the traditional sense. The other aim was to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using the DM in this context. We used three stages to collect information and reach a consensus. The first two were online activities, and the last consisted of a five-day face-to-face workshop. In the first stage, participants sent research questions, and organizers categorized them into themes. Participants responded to a survey ranking all research questions in the second stage. In the last, organizers analyzed the highest scored questions and arranged them into research topics in which participants worked on research proposals. The DM worked successfully with this group of participants by combining their interest in the field and engagement with the activities. The research strands and proposals of using this method are usable. The method used in this paper can serve as a model to develop research graduate courses to develop students' skills.
There is a plethora of literature regarding disproportionality in special education, school discipline, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP). The literature also describes the far-reaching ramifications for African American and other historically marginalized students not receiving the quality education to which they are entitled. These ramifications include poor outcomes in school (e.g., problems with retention and lack of reading proficiency), and lower quality of life outside of school (e.g., lack of high-quality jobs and homelessness). This article discusses factors that contribute to disciplinary exclusion of Black students and other historically marginalized and oppressed populations (e.g., students with disabilities). In addition, it provides research-based practices that teachers, schools, districts, and universities can enact to reduce disciplinary disproportionality, foster more inclusive environments, and help put an end to the STPP.
In this special section of Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities ( RPSD), the intersection of race, ethnicity, culture, and language influences schooling (i.e., what is taught, how, and where) for students of color with significant cognitive disabilities is explored. Contemporary issues facing people of color with severe disabilities are introduced with attention paid to a call for a “way forward.”
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An extensive theoretical and qualitative literature stresses the promise of instructional practices and content aligned with minority students’ experiences. Ethnic studies courses provide an example of such “culturally relevant pedagogy” (CRP). Despite theoretical support, quantitative evidence on the effectiveness of these courses is limited. We estimate the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum, using a “fuzzy” regression discontinuity design based on the fact that several schools assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take the course. Assignment to this course increased ninth-grade attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. These surprisingly large effects suggest that CRP, when implemented in a high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.
We evaluate a tracking program in a large urban district where schools with at least one gifted fourth grader create a separate "gifted/high achiever" classroom. Most seats are filled by non-gifted high achievers, ranked by previous-year test scores. We study the program's effects on the high achievers using (i) a rank-based regression discontinuity design, and (ii) a between-school/cohort analysis. We find significant effects that are concentrated among black and Hispanic participants. Minorities gain 0.5 standard deviation units in fourth-grade reading and math scores, with persistent gains through sixth grade. We find no evidence of negative or positive spillovers on nonparticipants.
Adolescence is a distinct, yet transient, period of development between childhood and adulthood characterized by increased experimentation and risk-taking, a tendency to discount long-term consequences, and heightened sensitivity to peers and other social influences. A key function of adolescence is developing an integrated sense of self, including individualization, separation from parents, and personal identity. Experimentation and novelty-seeking behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, unsafe sex, and reckless driving, are thought to serve a number of adaptive functions despite their risks. Research indicates that for most youth, the period of risky experimentation does not extend beyond adolescence, ceasing as identity becomes settled with maturity. Much adolescent involvement in criminal activity is part of the normal developmental process of identity formation and most adolescents will mature out of these tendencies. Evidence of significant changes in brain structure and function during adolescence strongly suggests that these cognitive tendencies characteristic of adolescents are associated with biological immaturity of the brain and with an imbalance among developing brain systems. This imbalance model implies dual systems: one involved in cognitive and behavioral control and one involved in socio-emotional processes. Accordingly adolescents lack mature capacity for self-regulations because the brain system that influences pleasure-seeking and emotional reactivity develops more rapidly than the brain system that supports self-control. This knowledge of adolescent development has underscored important differences between adults and adolescents with direct bearing on the design and operation of the justice system, raising doubts about the core assumptions driving the criminalization of juvenile justice policy in the late decades of the 20th century. It was in this context that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) asked the National Research Council to convene a committee to conduct a study of juvenile justice reform. The goal of Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach was to review recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and draw out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform, to assess the new generation of reform activities occurring in the United States, and to assess the performance of OJJDP in carrying out its statutory mission as well as its potential role in supporting scientifically based reform efforts. © 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Snapp and Russell identify factors that give rise to and perpetuate discipline disparities towards LGBTQ youth, as well as put forth strategies to reduce them. Challenges include an overly punitive approach to discipline and security in schools; untrained and overextended school staff; explicit and implicit bias towards against LGBTQ students; and a lack of school support for LGBTQ students. The authors suggest non-punitive discipline practices and the creation of safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ students, with properly trained school personnel. Although specific to LGBTQ students, these policies have the potential to improve safety and learning for all students due to their emphasis on inclusion and respect for diversity. These cross-constituency alliances identify, advocate for, and implement school practices and policies that will reduce discipline disparities for all students.
Blake and colleagues utilize a unique panel dataset of over 900,000 students to test the Cultural Synchrony Hypothesis, which asserts that negative evaluations of Black students are influenced by media-driven stereotypes of Black adults. These stereotypes are thought to subconsciously shape educators’ perceptions of Black students. By examining the degree to which the faculty of a school mirrors the student body’s racial demographics, their analysis shows that the higher the student–teacher racial/ethnic congruence, the lower the risk of encountering school discipline. These findings are particularly robust for females and students of color. Given these results, they suggest a concerted effort to recruit teachers of color. Further, the authors propose professional development targeting cultural competency to prevent teachers from misperceiving the behavior of students of color.