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School Discipline

Research related to the racial disparities in policies and practices related to school discipline.


See also the Civil Rights Project's Center for Civil Rights Remedies for information on additional school-to-prison pipeline research


Research Item January 2024 Update to "Lost Instruction Time in California Schools" (Oct. 2023)
Many educators in California are unaware of just how harmful out-of-school suspensions can be. When suspended students are barred from attending school, more often than not, the rule broken was some form of minor misconduct. This update of "Lost Instruction Time in California Schools" demonstrates that despite the important efforts by the state of California to reduce suspensions, those efforts are seriously insufficient.
Research Item Lost Instruction Time in California Schools: The Disparate Harm from Post-Pandemic Punitive Suspensions
This report analyzes CDE data sources to provide a detailed review of how suspensions directly contribute to disparities in learning opportunities for students in foster care or experiencing homelessness, as well as along the lines of race and disability in every California school district.
Research Item Unmasking School Discipline Disparities in California: What the 2019-2020 Data Can Tell Us about Problems and Progress
Limited data collection and analysis during the 2019-2020 pandemic-shortened school year masked the fact that many school districts in California were on course for substantially higher rates of school suspension and larger racial disparities among those suspended, had in-person education continued for the full year.
Research Item Lost Opportunities: How Disparate School Discipline Continues to Drive Differences in the Opportunity to Learn
This national study provides a comprehensive analysis of the instructions days lost due to out-of-school suspensions in 2015-16 for middle and high school students, for every state and district. The study also demonstrates how the frequent use of suspension contributes to stark inequities in the opportunity to learn, especially for those groups most frequently suspended. The descriptive findings will help policymakers understand the impact on every racial group and on students with disabilities.
Research Item Is California Doing Enough to Close the School Discipline Gap?
This research provides a unique seven-year trend analysis indicating that, while California has seen a decline in the use of suspensions in schools prior to the pandemic, the pace of the decline has slowed and large racial disparities in suspension rates remain. The research supports renewed advocacy efforts to eliminate schools’ use of security officers to enforce school rules, finding that high schools with higher security staff-to-student ratios tend to also have higher rates of lost instruction due to suspensions, especially for Black students.
Research Item The Striking Outlier: The Persistent, Painful and Problematic Practice of Corporal Punishment in Schools
This report examines only the data (students populations and paddling incidents) from schools where corporal punishment is used. The report relies on data from the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), primarily from the 2013-14 school year. In schools where corporal punishment is practiced, black students and students with disabilities are more likely to be struck than white students and those without disabilities.
Research Item The Unequal Impact of Suspension on the Opportunity to Learn in CA
In 2016-17, schoolchildren in California lost an estimated 763,690 days of instruction time, a figure based on the combined total of 381,845 in-school suspensions (ISS) and out-of-school suspensions (OSS). This is an updated report on CA suspension practice.
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