Posts Tagged school pushout

Infographic: America’s school dropout epidemic by the numbers

The League of Education Voters is a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign, which has organized the Fourth Annual National Week of Action on School Pushout, taking place September 28–October 5, 2013.

Higher rates of suspensions and expulsions lead to higher dropout rates, and students of color, low-income students, and special education students are disciplined at higher rates than other students, adding to our nation’s dropout epidemic. (more…)

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Study looks at suspension rates for Native American students

A comprehensive study of suspension rates in school districts across the nation from the UCLA Civil Rights Project has found serious disparities in the application of suspension to students of color and students with disabilities.

Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion From School found that 17% of African American students nationwide received an out-of-school suspension compared to about 5% of White students. The comparable rate for Latinos was 7%. The suspension rates were equally striking for students with disabilities and revealed that an estimated 13% of all students with disabilities were suspended nationally, approximately twice the rate of their non-disabled peers.

In the early 1970s, the national average for suspensions was approximately three percent for White K-12 students. Today, many districts report suspension risks of lower than three percent for each racial/ethnic subgroup. However, according to the study:

Well over three million children, K-12, are estimated to have lost instructional “seat time” in 2009-2010 because they were suspended from school, often with no guarantee of adult supervision outside the school. That’s about the number of children it would take to fill every seat in every major league baseball park and every NFL stadium in America, combined.

The study also notes that while loss of seat time is obviously a barrier to learning, suspensions matter because a suspended student is much more likely to drop out of school and also more likely to be incarcerated. This is especially important because the study reiterates finding that suspensions are not doled out equally across demographic groups of students. African American children and children with disabilities are usually at a far greater risk than others.

These suspension rates are influenced by several factors closely controlled by schools and districts, the study’s authors found. Factors include differences in school leadership, differences in school policy, effective support and training for teachers, and possibly racial and disability bias.

One thing the study highlights is that the frequent use of suspension brings no benefits in terms of test scores or graduation rates. Authors conclude:

[T]he oft-repeated claim that it is necessary to kick out the bad kids so the good kids can learn is shown to be a myth. In fact, research suggests that a relatively lower use of out-of-school suspensions, after controlling for race and poverty, correlates with higher test scores, not lower.”

The report is based on an analysis of Federal government suspension-related data from the 2009-10 school year for grades K-12 in nearly 7,000 districts. The data analyzed covered about 85% of the nation’s public school students.

Read the full report here.

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Discipline change effort in LA schools leads to fewer suspensions, especially for special ed students

Baton Rouge schools are getting a school discipline makeover thanks to a consultant team. The schools are aligning their definitions of suspension and expulsion, being held accountable to record discipline data accurately and building a culture of respect in the classroom. All of this work has led to a more than 25 percent decrease in suspensions and expulsions for students in special education.

Frequent, informal but meaningful feedback from administrators is something consultants said they saw at the schools that showed the most improvement in their student suspension and expulsion rates.

“My biggest fear is… that a teacher just doesn’t send a kid (to the office), because that’s a recipe for disaster,” one consultant said. “We do not want that to be the message. Teachers need to be supported.”

Consultants also found that about two-thirds of suspensions in Baton Rouge come from non-violent rule infractions, like dress code violations, tardiness and cellphone use. That’s where they say they would like to work next to continue to decrease suspension and expulsion rates.

Read more here.

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Slowing suspension, keeping kids in school

Slowing suspension, keeping kids in school

A recent article in TIME looks at suspension and expulsion policies of schools in both New Orleans and Baltimore. In conversations with students, parents, teachers and administrators, TIME found that there’s broad agreement on suspension: it doesn’t work.

“[Suspension] makes no sense, because students are losing class time,” Daniel Losen, a senior education law and policy associate for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, told TIME. “They are often not being supervised. They are not learning anything. No one is teaching them about misbehavior. No one is making sure they are prepared to return to school.”

Despite this, suspension rates have more than doubled across all grade levels in the past 30 years. Suspensions and expulsions have affected students of color in particular: black students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, and in the 2009-10 school year one out of five African American boys received an out-of-school suspension.

Some administrators and teachers say that the reason suspensions continue is that at a certain point a student’s behavior disrupts other students’ learning, and it is not fair to those other students to keep disruptive students in the class. But as a teacher and then as the chief of Baltimore public schools, Andres Alonso had a different approach. He made a drastic shift in Baltimore’s code of conduct, eliminating suspension as an option for many first-time offenses like talking back to a teacher, requiring principals to obtain permission from him or a designee if they wanted to suspend a child for more than five days at a time, and establishing Success Academy, an alternative school for students on long-term suspensions or expulsions, inside the district’s central office. The last move was designed partly to send the message that troubled students are at the center of the district’s mission.

Some Baltimore schools adopted a “restorative justice” approach to discipline. With this approach, instead of automatically suspending students when there is a problem, staff and students sit together to talk through the point of contention. Often, the end result is a punishment tailored to the specific infraction. The change was difficult for some adults in her school, said elementary school principal Rhonda Richetta. “I think people are giving up on our kids because of their behavior,” she told TIME. “They are not seeing that that behavior is really reaching out for help.”

Read the whole article here. Learn more about school discipline here.

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Walla Walla school's new approach to discipline drops suspension 85 percent

Yesterday we wrote about a study that concluded that “safety in schools can be enhanced by increasing both structure and support: adopting rules that are strictly and fairly enforced and having adults at the school who are caring, supportive and willing to help students.”

In Washington, one school is adopting this positive approach with astounding results. Lincoln High School in Walla Walla is an alternative school with students who face some of the most difficult life challenges and had experienced trouble in their previous schools. The principal, Jim Sporleder, was looking for solutions after three challenging years running the school. He found them in a new approach to discipline that encourages communication, keeps kids in school, and shows respect and support for every student, no matter how they act out.

Sporleder came to this new approach when he was introduced to research that shows that students dealing with trauma are physiologically impaired when it comes to learning. The types of trauma include emotional, sexual and physical abuse, and emotional and physical neglect, a parent addicted to alcohol or other drugs, seeing a mother being abused, a family member in prison, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and a parent who’s disappeared through abandoning the family or divorce. An anonymous survey created and answered by Lincoln High students found that the students had an average of between four and five of these traumatic experiences in their lives.

The staff at the school takes this information seriously. They know that you can’t simply punish a behavior that is a reaction to trauma away, so they take a different approach. When a kid erupts in class, teachers intervene quickly. They step out of the classroom with the student and ask what’s going on, suggest the student take a time out in a special In School Suspension (ISS) room, or ask the student if they would like to speak to someone at the adjoining Health Center.

If it escalates, the student meets with Principal Sporleder, who uses a zone system to help students describe their behavior. Students in the red zone get time to process their emotions and then meet with Sporleder the next morning to discuss solutions. Now that the program has become part of the school’s culture, more often than not the students have already talked the problem over with their teacher, apologized and figured out a solution by the time they meet with Sporleder again. If they refuse to apologize to the teacher and solve the problem, or their infraction is more serious, students instead go to In School Suspension, where they can catch up on work, talk to an adviser and have time to move to the green zone.

Using this method, staff say there are much fewer emotional explosions and students are better able to self-regulate. Plus, their suspensions have dropped 85 percent and expulsions have dropped by 40 percent in just one year.

“This is such a paradigm shift, you have to believe in it to make change happen,” said Sporleder. “The administration has to show support. That’s what I’ve seen. You’ve just gotta believe in it. You’ve gotta know that it’s true.”

Read more about Lincoln High School here.

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Arrests in schools disproportionate and detrimental, study shows

A new study from the ACLU and Citizens for Juvenile Justice adds to the already broad supporting research that shows over-reliance on school-based police–and arrest in particular–undermines students’ feelings of security and safety, and furthers the criminalization process known as the school-to-prison pipeline, while simultaneously discouraging the use of more positive, evidence-based discipline models that result in better outcomes for youth and schools.

The authors of the study looked at arrest data from Massachusetts’ three largest school districts and found that the majority of arrests were for “public order” offenses, like “disturbing lawful assembly”. However, many offenses that resulted in public order arrests were because of behavior like unruliness, disrespect of staff or use of profanity. One student was even arrested for throwing a cheeseburger.

They also found that students of color and students with learning disabilities were disproportionately affected by policing practices in these school districts. In Boston, African American students accounted for 65 percent of all arrests in public schools, despite making up only 23 percent of the student body. In Springfield, 66 percent of all in-school arrests were of Hispanic students, though they accounted for only 55 percent of the student body. Further, the schools with the highest rates of arrests were schools specifically set up to serve students with diagnosed behavioral and learning disabilities.

The authors conclude that “safety in schools can be enhanced by increasing both structure and support: adopting rules that are strictly and fairly enforced and having adults at the school who are caring, supportive and willing to help students.”

Read the full study here.

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LEV joins Dignity in Schools

LEV joined the national campaign called Dignity in Schools to help align our local state work with the efforts of school districts across the nation. 

We participate in monthly campaign calls to work on two major issues:

1) The development of Model School Code that highlights the human rights of students, parents and educators
2) Support of local DSC chapters who are engaged in their own struggles to end school pushout.

Many people ask what school pushout is and how it connects to the work LEV does. The answer is fairly straight forward. Washington has a growing achievement gap. Over-disciplining students of color and low-income students is linked to increased activity with law enforcement and increased drop-out rates for those students. When students are excluded from the classroom, they miss out on valuable learning time.

According to Dignity in Schools, school pushout refers to the numerous and systemic factors that prevent or discourage young people from remaining on track to complete their education, and it has severe and lasting consequences for students, parents, schools, and communities. These factors include, among others, the failure to provide essential components of a high quality education, lack of stakeholder participation in decision-making, over-reliance on zero-tolerance practices and punitive measures such as suspensions and expulsions, over-reliance on law enforcement tactics and ceding of disciplinary authority to law enforcement personnel, and a history of systemic racism and inequality. These factors have an impact on all students, but have a disproportionate impact on historically disenfranchised youth.

Want to know more about what LEV is doing regarding discipline in schools? Check out our Stop School Pushout page.


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