Suspension rates for elementary and high school students in most districts in the state, and in much of the nation, are now easier to find using a new web tool announced Tuesday by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, a part of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

The “Suspension Rates at U.S. Schools” tool sorts U.S. Department of Education data on suspension by race, ethnicity, gender, English learner and disability status using information from 26,000 K-12 schools and 7,000 districts across the country. The tool breaks out suspension rates in districts by school division levels: K-12, elementary school, secondary school or a comparison of elementary and secondary school.

The release of the suspension data tool is “a bid to empower parents, educators, policymakers and reporters alike,” said the center in a news release. The data is based on the most recent sampling from 2009-2010, but the federal department of education is expected to release new data on school suspension rates in 2014, and the data tool will be updated accordingly, said the Center for Civil Rights Remedies.

Filed under: Charts and Data, High School Completion, K-12 Reform, Quick Hits, Students · Tags: , , ,

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  1. el says:

    For clarity, it doesn’t actually have data for all districts in California.

    1. Jane Meredith Adams says:

      Thanks for clarifying. It seemed all the districts were listed. Did you notice missing districts or districts that lacked data? I updated the sentence to read “most districts in the state.”

      1. el says:

        In Mendocino County, I found only two districts listed. There are Lake County districts missing also. My initial assumption was that there was a size cutoff but that does not seem to explain it.

        I would also point out that because it uses percentages, very small ethnic groups should not be considered reliable statistically. If I were advising the people displaying this data, I would encourage them to include total counts. 50% of say American Indian suspended sounds horrible, but your reaction should be quite different if there are 100 students in that category versus if there are two.

  2. I hope the new database collects data about the race, ethnicity, and gender of the person suspending the student, as well as about those characteristics of the student. I saw data when I was working at Locke High School that showed that the high suspension rate of African-Americans, for example, was maintained regardless of whether the administrator suspending the student was black, white, or otherwise. These crucial data removed a lot of the force from the argument that the African-American students were being discriminated against, unless one wanted to argue that African-American administrators were also discriminating against African-American students. And similar patterns were found for Latinos as well as other groups.

    1. navigio says:

      Well, it is possible to discriminate by things other than race. Its also possible for more than just ‘traditional’ discrimination to be the culprit (if you get a chance, read at least the intro to pedro noguera’s the trouble with black boys).

      Regardless, here are two reasons I think your point, while valid at an anecdotal level, does not matter. First, the majority of teachers and certificated staff in this state are white. The majority of students are not. The same applies to most, even urban districts as well. Your point cannot be supported at broader levels while this is the case.

      Second, at some point we decided that because students require differing levels of opportunity to meet the same (or even differing) levels of achievement, it was valid to base our measure of equity on outcome rather than on opportunity (this seems to have been a critical shift, and I wish we discussed it more). This paradigm has been applied to more than just performance data. Along those lines, regardless of the ’cause’, highlighting the disparity is the only way it will garner focus.

      a few points about the data:
      - a lot has changed since 09-10, both in reporting and in district discipline. It might be useful to highlight those changes as newer data is made available.
      - i found at least one graph in which the all rate was higher than any of the shown subgroup rates. that doesnt seem possible
      - it would be nice to have the ability to distinguish the grade subset on the search page as well (not before state and district are chosen)

      1. With respect to your first reason, navigio, the ethnic balance among staff is irrelevant if all staff, regardless of race, are responding to student behaviour in statistically identical ways.

        Your second point, however, I find more persuasive. These disparate suspension outcomes indicate that we have real social inequities crying for address. However, that doesn’t mean that my original point doesn’t matter; it is highly useful to learn which proposed remedies (for example, cracking down on putative biased discrimination on the part of a non-existent band of racist administrators) are likely to address misdiagnoses based on inadequate data so as not to waste time and energy that might be devoted to more promising solutions.

    2. CarolineSF says:

      It will be interesting to keep an eye on the statistics and outcomes at Oakland’s experimental charter school that enrolls only black males and has an almost-all-black-male staff. If you view the slideshow that accompanies the Chronicle story, you can see a story emerging about discipline issues.

  3. Gary Orfield says:

    Obviously, we must keep our schools safe, but the practice of suspending kids for problems that could be much better handed within schools has gone much too far in many schools and the punishment has often been focused on exactly the young people who most need a strong and continuous connection with school. At the worst it becomes a part of the school-to dropout-to jail pipeline that ruins many lives, especially for young men of color. This tool from the Civil Rights Remedies Center should be invaluable for communities and educators who want to keep kids in school, to give teachers more tools and understanding, and help the schools find ways and resources to manage problems inside the school while preserving order and saving the future of young people who otherwise may have none.