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The roles of suspensions for minor infractions and school climate in predicting academic performance among adolescents

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Abstract

African American adolescents are grossly overrepresented in rates of school suspensions for minor disciplinary infractions; however, the consequences associated with this disciplinary practice are unknown. African American adolescents who were suspended for minor infractions may perceive school rules and adults as unfair and illegitimate, and these poor perceptions toward school may compromise their social and interpersonal resources necessary for academic success. The present study investigates: (a) whether suspensions for minor infractions predict lower school grades longitudinally, and (b) whether poor school climate perceptions mediate the longitudinal link between suspensions for minor infractions and school grades. Based on 3 years of school records and social survey data from 2,381 adolescents (35% African American, 65% White), results illustrated that more African American adolescents were suspended for minor infractions than their White peers who committed similar infractions. In addition, African American adolescents suspended for minor infractions also had lower grades 1 and 2 years later. The longitudinal relation between suspensions for minor infractions and subsequent grades was partially mediated by African American adolescents' school climate perceptions. Implications are discussed in relation to racial biases and developmentally appropriate, equitable disciplinary practices. Public Significance Statement: The present study shows that more African American youth are suspended for minor infractions than White youth. In addition, these suspensions predicted poor school grades and school climate perceptions for African American youth. These findings raise concerns about school adults' discretion in using punitive school discipline policies and practices, as they may be contributing to academic disparities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

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... 5 In addition, online racial discrimination may have been coupled with offline discrimination, 29 such as direct and vicarious offline harassment across contexts that adolescents face throughout any given day, including school figures, peer groups, and extracurricular activities. 30,31 In turn, this amalgamation of negative online and offline encounters across youths' life courses may have led Black youths to experience heightened stress and hopelessness. 10,32 Whereas past research documented nonsignificant longitudinal effects of direct online racial discrimination across a 3-year period, 18 we found immediate same-day and next-day decrements in mental health following online racist events. ...
... Indeed, studies have found that White youths are less affected by race-related experiences than are their Black peers. 31,36 The present study was not free of limitations. For instance, we solely examined online racial discrimination; therefore, we cannot rule out the possibility that offline discrimination also increased during this period. ...
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Objective To determine whether rates of online racial discrimination changed over the course of 2020 and their longitudinal effects on Black youth’s mental health. Method This longitudinal study collected 18,454 daily assessments from a nationally representative sample of 602 Black and White adolescents in the United States (58% Black, 42% White; Mage = 15.09, SDage = 1.56) across 58 days during the heightened racial tensions between March and November 2020. Results Black youth experienced increases in online racial discrimination, and these increases were not fully explained by time spent online nor general cybervictimization experiences. Online racial discrimination predicted poorer same- and next-day mental health among Black youth but not among White youth. Black youth’s mental health did not predict their online racial discrimination experiences. Conclusion Online racial discrimination has implications for shaping mental health disparities that disadvantage Black youth relative to their White peers. Programs can be implemented to decrease online hate crimes, and health providers (e.g., pediatricians, psychiatrists) should develop procedures that mitigate the negative mental health effects following online racial discrimination experiences.
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We first review current literature on three ethnic–racial dynamics that are considered to be resources and stressors in the lives of ethnic-minority youth: ethnic–racial identity, socialization, and discrimination. Next, we propose that a more contextualized view of these ethnic–racial dynamics reveals that they are interdependent, inseparable, and mutually defining and that an ecological/transactional perspective on these ethnic–racial dynamics shifts researchers’ gaze from studying them as individual-level processes to studying the features of settings that produce them. We describe what is known about how identity, socialization, and discrimination occur in four microsystems—families, peers, schools, and neighborhoods—and argue that focusing on specific characteristics of these microsystems in which particular types of identity, socialization, and discrimination processes cooccur would be informative.
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Can social–psychological theory provide insight into the extreme racial disparities in school disciplinary action in the United States? Disciplinary problems carry enormous consequences for the quality of students’ experience in school, opportunities to learn, and ultimate life outcomes. This burden falls disproportionately on students of color. Integrating research on stereotyping and on stigma, we theorized that bias and apprehension about bias can build on one another in school settings in a vicious cycle that undermines teacher–student relationships over time and exacerbates inequality. This approach is more comprehensive than accounts in which the predicaments of either teachers or students are considered alone rather than in tandem, it complements nonpsychological approaches, and it gives rise to novel implications for policy and intervention. It also extends prior research on bias and stigmatization to provide a model for understanding the social–psychological bases of inequality more generally.
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The construct of school climate has received attention as a way to enhance student achievement and reduce problem behaviors. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the existing literature on school climate and to bring to light the strengths, weakness, and gaps in the ways researchers have approached the construct. The central information in this article is organized into five sections. In the first, we describe the theoretical frameworks to support the multidimensionality of school climate and how school climate impacts student outcomes. In the second, we provide a breakdown of the four domains that make up school climate, including academic, community, safety, and institutional environment. In the third, we examine research on the outcomes of school climate. In the fourth, we outline the measurement and analytic methods of the construct of school climate. Finally, we summarize the strengths and limitations of the current work on school climate and make suggestions for future research directions.
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Although the association between school suspension and deleterious outcomes is widely acknowledged, policy and practice need to be informed by an evidence base derived from multiple studies revealing consistent trends. This meta-analysis aims to address this void by examining the degree to which different types of school suspensions (in-school versus out-of-school) are associated with both academic achievement and school dropout, while concurrently examining study or participant characteristics that moderate these relationships. Data sources included peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed studies from 1986 – 2012 obtained via bibliographic databases. A meta-analysis was conducted on 53 cases from 34 studies. The results revealed a significant inverse relationship between suspensions and achievement, along with a significant positive relationship between suspensions and dropout. Furthermore, study or participant characteristics and type of suspension significantly affected the relationship between suspensions and the outcome variables. Implications for policy, practice, and research are emphasized.
Article
There are large racial disparities in school discipline in the United States, which, for Black students, not only contribute to school failure but also can lay a path toward incarceration. Although the disparities have been well documented, the psychological mechanisms underlying them are unclear. In two experiments, we tested the hypothesis that such disparities are, in part, driven by racial stereotypes that can lead teachers to escalate their negative responses to Black students over the course of multiple interpersonal (e.g., teacher-to-student) encounters. More generally, we argue that race not only can influence how perceivers interpret a specific behavior, but also can enhance perceivers' detection of behavioral patterns across time. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical benefits of employing this novel approach to stereotyping across a range of real-world settings. © The Author(s) 2015.
Article
This research examines the differences between ethnic groups when school infractions are subjective/objective. Using school discipline incident data, eight categories of infractions are analyzed: disobedience, violence, substance abuse, vandalism, theft, truancy, safety, and miscellaneous. Within these eight categories there are 32 specific infractions. Specific infractions were then classified as either subjective or objective by a committee. Population proportion criteria (PPC; minus or plus 10% of a group’s overall population) is used. Findings indicated that only black students exceeded the criteria with infractions having subjective definitions. All other groups only exceeded PPC with infractions having objective definitions.
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The term and construct “school-to-prison” pipeline has been widely used by advocates, researchers, and policymakers to describe the relationship between school disciplinary practices and increased risk of juvenile justice contact. It has been unclear whether the construct is a useful heuristic or a descriptor of empirically validated relationships that establish school disciplinary practices as a risk factor for negative developmental outcomes, including juvenile justice involvement. In this article, we examine the literature surrounding one facet of the pipeline, school exclusion as a disciplinary option, and propose a model for tracing possible pathways of effect from school suspension and expulsion to the ultimate contact point of juvenile justice involvement. Available multivariate analyses suggest that regardless of demographic, achievement, or system status, out-of-school suspension and expulsion are in and of themselves risk factors for a range of negative developmental outcomes. Recommendations are offered to assist schools in replacing disciplinary exclusion with a range of alternatives whose goal is to preserve both school order and provide all students with educational opportunities.
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In this article, we review knowledge about student engagement and look ahead to the future of study in this area. We begin by describing how researchers in the field define and study student engagement. In particular, we describe the levels, contexts, and dimensions that constitute the measurement of engagement, summarize the contexts that shape engagement and the outcomes that result from it, and articulate person-centered approaches for analyzing engagement. We conclude by addressing limitations to the research and providing recommendations for study. Specifically, we point to the importance of incorporating more work on how learning-related emotions, personality characteristics, prior learning experiences, shared values across contexts, and engagement in nonacademic activities influence individual differences in student engagement. We also stress the need to improve our understanding of the nuances involved in developing engagement over time by incorporating more extensive longitudinal analyses, intervention trials, research on affective neuroscience, and interactions among levels and dimensions of engagement.
Article
Research has found that, in 2006, over 28 per cent of Black male middle school students had been suspended at least once, nearly three times the rate for White males. Other research has revealed racial disparities in discipline, including disproportionately high numbers of Black students being removed from class on discretionary discipline grounds, while Whites had higher rates of punishment for nondiscretionary offenses. Several studies have shown that being suspended significantly increased the risk of dropping out and future contact with the juvenile justice system. This article examines what we know about racial disparities in out‐of‐school suspensions in light of research on school discipline policy. The article explores the implications of this knowledge for civil rights enforcement and making improvements. KeypointsArgument that sound educational practice can replace excessive suspensions with alternatives that address misbehavior but keeps students in school.Unpacks common misconceptions in defense of frequent use of suspensions with research on the harm of this common practice.Analyzes the national data that should raise serious concerns about the use of out‐of‐school suspensions.Makes clear recommendations for federal and state policymakers, educators and civil rights enforcement.
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This paper advances a comparative conflict theory of racial and ethnic similarities and differences in youth perceptions of criminal injustice. We use HLM models to test six conflict hypotheses with data from more than 18,000 Chicago public school students. At the micro-level African American youth are more vulnerable to police contacts than are Latinos, who are more at risk than whites, and there is a corresponding gradient in minority group perceptions of injustice. When structural sources of variation in adolescents' experiences are taken into account, however, minority youth perceptions of criminal injustice appear more similar to one another, while remaining distinct from those of white youth. At the micro-level, Latino youth respond more strongly and negatively to police contacts, even though they experience fewer of them. At the macrolevel, as white students in schools increase cross-sectionally, perceptions of injustice among both African American and Latino youth at first intensify and then ultimately abate. Although there are again signs of a gradient, African American and Latino responses to school integration also are as notable in their similarities as in their differences. Reduced police contacts and meaningful school integration are promising mechanisms for diminishing both adolescent African American and Latino perceptions of criminal injustice.
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This study examined teachers' perceptions of African American males' aggression and achievement and the need for special education services based on African American students' cultural movement styles (i.e., walking). The participants, 136 middle school teachers, viewed a videotape and completed a questionnaire. To study interaction effects between student ethnicity and student movement and teachers' ratings of student achievement, aggression, and need for special education, a completely randomized factorial analysis of variance was employed. The results indicated that the teachers perceived students with African American culture - related movement styles as lower in achievement, higher in aggression, and more likely to need special education services than students with standard movement styles. Implications for research are discussed.
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American schools increasingly define and manage the problem of student discipline through a prism of crime control. Most theoretical explanations fail to situate school criminalization in a broader structural context, to fully explain its spatio-temporal variations, and to specify the processes and subjectivities that mediate between structural and legal forces and the behavior of school actors. A multilevel structural model of school criminalization is developed which posits that a troubled domestic economy, the mass unemployment and incarceration of disadvantaged minorities, and resulting fiscal crises in urban public education have shifted school disciplinary policies and practices and staff perceptions of poor students of color in a manner that promotes greater punishment and exclusion of students perceived to be on a criminal justice `track'.
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Although school climate has been thought to be especially important for racial minority and poor students (Booker, 20067. Booker , K. C. 2006 . School belonging and the African American adolescent: What do we know and where should we go? . The High School Journal , 89 ( 4 ) : 1 – 7 . [CrossRef]View all references; Haynes, Emmons, & Ben-Avie, 199726. Haynes , N. M. , Emmons , C. and Ben-Avie , M. 1997 . School climate as a factor in student adjustment and achievement . Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation , 8 ( 3 ) : 321 – 329 . [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®]View all references), little research has explored the significance of racial climate for these students. Furthermore, research in the area has tended to treat race, socioeconomic class, and gender separately, ignoring the ways in which they interact. Using quantitative survey data from 842 African American and white middle school students, this study examined the associations of race, class, and gender with school racial climate perceptions. Results indicated students’ perceptions of racial climate differed by race, class, and gender. African American, poor, and female students perceived the racial climate in more negative terms than their white, non-poor, and male counterparts, respectively. Results also indicated joint associations between race and class and climate perceptions. Non-poor, African American students perceived a more negative racial climate than did non-poor Whites. There was limited support for a race and gender interaction. African American females tended to perceive less racial fairness in school than African American males. We discuss the conceptual and methodological tradeoffs of examining students’ school racial climate perceptions from a perspective that considers race, class, and gender jointly.
Article
In this article, the authors examine the conceptualization and measurement of ethnic identity as a multidimensional, dynamic construct that develops over time through a process of exploration and commitment. The authors discuss the components of ethnic identity that have been studied and the theoretical background for a developmental model of ethnic identity. The authors review research on the measurement of ethnic identity using the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (J. Phinney, 1992) and present a revised version of the measure. The authors conclude with a consideration of the measurement issues raised by J. E. Helms (2007) and K. Cokley (2007) and suggestions for future research on ethnic identity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Although there is increasing awareness of the overrepresentation of ethic minority students—particularly Black students—in disciplinary actions, the extant research has rarely empirically examined potential factors that may contribute to these disparities. The current study used a multilevel modeling approach to examine factors at the child (e.g., teacher-rated disruptive behavior problems) and classroom or teacher levels (e.g., teacher ethnicity, level of disruptive behavior in classroom) that may contribute to the overrepresentation of minority students in office disciplinary referrals (ODRs). Data come from 6,988 children in 381 classrooms at 21 elementary schools. The analyses indicated that even after controlling for the student's level of teacher-rated behavior problems, teacher ethnicity, and other classroom factors, Black students were significantly more likely than White students to receive ODRs. Results also suggested that ethnic match between students and their teachers did not reduce the risk for referrals among Black students. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Maximum likelihood algorithms for use with missing data are becoming common-place in microcomputer packages. Specifically, 3 maximum likelihood algorithms are currently available in existing software packages: the multiple-group approach, full information maximum likelihood estimation, and the EM algorithm. Although they belong to the same family of estimator, confusion appears to exist over the differ-ences among the 3 algorithms. This article provides a comprehensive, nontechnical overview of the 3 maximum likelihood algorithms. Multiple imputation, which is fre-quently used in conjunction with the EM algorithm, is also discussed. Until recently, the analysis of data with missing observations has been dominated by listwise (LD) and pairwise (PD) deletion methods (Kim & Curry, 1977; Roth, 1994). However, alternative methods for treating missing data have become in-creasingly common in software packages, leaving applied researchers with a wide range of data analytic options. In particular, three maximum likelihood (ML) esti-mation algorithms for use with missing data are currently available: the multi-ple-group approach (Allison, 1987; Muthén, Kaplan, & Hollis, 1987) can be imple-mented using existing structural equation modeling (SEM) software; Amos (Arbuckle, 1995) and Mx (Neale, 1995) offer full information maximum likelihood STRUCTURAL EQUATION MODELING, 8(1), 128–141 Copyright © 2001, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.