A study of national suspension rates shows a “discipline gap,” with African-American and disabled students having the highest rates and Asian and white students the lowest. Altogether, 3.5 million public school students were suspended from school at least once in 2011-12.

“Given that the average suspension is conservatively put at 3.5 days, we estimate that U.S. public school children lost nearly 18 million days of instruction in just one school year because of exclusionary discipline,” according to the study, Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?, by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Out-of-school suspensions, the authors say, exacerbate the achievement gap. They point to a 2014 study by Attendance Works that found that missing three days of school in the month before taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress test translated into 4th-graders scoring a full grade level lower in reading on the test.

The UCLA study found a suspension rate for middle and high school students of 23.2 percent for African-American students and 18.1 percent for students with physical and mental disabilities. That compares with 6.7 percent for white students and 2.5 percent for Asian students. Latino students had a suspension rate of 10.8 percent.

At the elementary level, the suspension rates were much lower, but African-American students and students with physical and mental disabilities still were the most likely to be suspended, with a rate of 7.6 percent for African-Americans and 5.4 percent for students with disabilities. That compares to 1.6 percent for white students and 0.5 percent for Asian students. Latino students had a rate of 2.1 percent. Among the elementary school students with disabilities, children with an emotional disturbance or with significant learning disabilities had the highest risk for suspension, the authors said.

California’s overall suspension rate for middle and high schools was 9 percent, with a black/white gap of 13 percentage points. Although Wisconsin had a lower overall rate, it had the highest black/white gap – 34 percentage points. Vermont had a black/white gap of 1 percentage point, the lowest in the country. The report listed Visalia Unified as one of the 10 districts in the country that had reduced its secondary suspension rate the most from 2009-10, cutting it from 40.5 percent to 15.5 percent in 2011-12.

At the elementary level, California had an overall suspension rate of 2.6 percent, with a black/white gap of 5.6 percentage points. Missouri had the highest gap at 12.5 percentage points. North Dakota was the only state with no black/white gap. 

However, the report noted that the data do not reflect the recent change in California’s law that makes it illegal to suspend a K-3 student for willful defiance – the most common reason for out-of-school suspensions in this state. The law took effect in January.

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  1. Nicole Williams 4 years ago4 years ago

    Again, Afrikan American students have the highest suspension rates because their needs are not being met in any school district in this country. The schools have not even tried finding solutions. One solution is to hire more Black teachers. There also needs to be separate Black male/female development classes, taught by Black instructors. These classes need to be modeled after successful programs implemented in other schools, for example, Urban Prep Academy in Chicago and The Harlem Kids Zone in New York.

  2. Dawn Urbanek 4 years ago4 years ago

    Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with the education of parents and having a two parent home. Adolescents need both a strong male and female role model to grow into strong adults.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

      I would agree Dawn that it is far better for children to have two parents, and you even see groups with active grandparents performing even higher (Asians typically have 3 generations in the home). However, statistics have not shown any lower performance for children raised by gay and lesbian parents. I believe two parents is way better and liberals make a huge mistake when they take all stigma from divorce and children being … Read More

      I would agree Dawn that it is far better for children to have two parents, and you even see groups with active grandparents performing even higher (Asians typically have 3 generations in the home). However, statistics have not shown any lower performance for children raised by gay and lesbian parents. I believe two parents is way better and liberals make a huge mistake when they take all stigma from divorce and children being born in wedlock. Now that gays and lesbians can marry, all kids should be born or adopted to parents who are married. Stats back this up. But they don’t necessarily need a male and a female. The jury is still out as info is new, but preliminary info shows kids of gay and lesbian families slightly outperforming straight families.

  3. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 4 years ago4 years ago

    Considering the on-going achievement "gap" for black kids, it is an educational disaster when they are suspended from school and miss class instruction. But no proposed remedy pays even lip service to understanding how underlying sociology influences cultural style among black students. Anyone who has ever taught in a public school classroom knows that some African-American kids have a uniquely expressive manner -- different from Asian, Latino or Anglo kids -- that can lead to … Read More

    Considering the on-going achievement “gap” for black kids, it is an educational disaster when they are suspended from school and miss class instruction. But no proposed remedy pays even lip service to understanding how underlying sociology influences cultural style among black students. Anyone who has ever taught in a public school classroom knows that some African-American kids have a uniquely expressive manner — different from Asian, Latino or Anglo kids — that can lead to disruptions of instruction, standoffs, teacher charges of “willful defiance” and expulsion to the office. Black kids can quickly get cross-wise with their mostly white teachers.

    This is a discipline chasm, not a “gap.” Schools need to take time to regularly and publicly uphold their high standards and expectations for positive interpersonal relations, with adults walking the talk. Student-run disciplinary courts work. Imaginative on-going in-service-training for teachers, counselors and staff about student cultures and the different ways kids express themselves can shed light, cause reflection and bring positive change in adult responses. Way more counselors are needed whose job descriptions are to focus on student well-being, academic achievement and discipline issues. Staffed study halls on campus allow disruptive students to be dismissed but to continue their schoolwork with assistance and supervision.

    Socio-economic status is increasingly destiny in this country. African-American kids are burdened by the weight of American history and the legacy of slavery. More blacks than whites feel alienated from and distrustful of authority and officialdom. (See polling of disparate public attitudes toward police in Ferguson, Mo., and other communities last summer.) Schools are run by mostly white authorities. Black kids, like their parents, struggle disproportionately with poverty, poor health, unemployment, neighborhood crime, incarceration and fractured families. It takes a toll that is frequently seen at school.

    We need to understand these behaviors — not punish them with draconian “zero-tolerance” policies or excuse them with permissive “restorative justice” schemes. To keep on keeping on the way we’re going will guarantee that nothing changes.

    Replies

    • Caroline Grannan 4 years ago4 years ago

      The book “Code of the Street” by the African-American Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson adds dimension to Frances’ observations (that is, essentially backs them up). Simply bean-counting by race may not be telling the story. I highly recommend the book to anyone covering these issues or setting policy around them — discussing them in a simplistic way is not helpful.

      • Caroline Grannan 4 years ago4 years ago

        And also check out the work by Nadine Burke Harris on adverse childhood experiences and their effect on health — physical, mental, behavioral and emotional health.

  4. Lou 4 years ago4 years ago

    Since Asian-Americans are suspended at a lesser rate than whites, we can eliminate racism and bias as the cause of this disparity.

    Replies

    • Mr Tree 4 years ago4 years ago

      lol. With that same logic, then, Hitler was not racists because he allied with Japan.

      • FloydThursby1941 4 years ago4 years ago

        This makes no sense. Some groups behave better than others. Asians suffered historical racism. We know Asians study 2.5 hours in CA for every 1 a white kid studies, 13.8 vs. 5.6. We know that African Americans argue with teachers and start fights much more. It isn't racist if the rules are the same for everyone and enforcement of those rules isn't proportional. Girls are suspended far less than … Read More

        This makes no sense. Some groups behave better than others. Asians suffered historical racism. We know Asians study 2.5 hours in CA for every 1 a white kid studies, 13.8 vs. 5.6. We know that African Americans argue with teachers and start fights much more. It isn’t racist if the rules are the same for everyone and enforcement of those rules isn’t proportional. Girls are suspended far less than boys, and women go to prison far less. Is this misandry? No, it’s simply a result of different subgroups behaving differently. Blacks commit murder at 6-7 times the rate of whites, and Asians at 1/7th the rate of whites. It may be due to historical racism partially, but it’s not due to current racism.

        • Kalimah 4 years ago4 years ago

          We know that African Americans start fights and argue more with their teachers? Where is the data that supports that or any of your blanket statements.

          I think your statements are reflective of the issue. Bias and prejudice that is influencing the way discipline is administered.