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Spring 2012

RESEARCH BRIEF Zero Tolerance  and  School  Discipline   Policies:  Implications  for  Administrators  and   Policy  Makers

Marcia Watson

University of North Carolina at Charlotte Introduc)on

Zero tolerance policies were once considered a viable option for districts and administrators aiming to punish and prevent student discipline infractions. These policies are specified as harsh, predefined, and usually require mandatory consequences (Heitzeg, 2009). Moreover, the application of these policies is often applied without regards for the severity of the infraction or the circumstantial context (Heitzeg, 2009). The effects of these policies have compounded into widespread increases in suspension and expulsion rates nationally. In fact, school suspension rates have increased from six percent to over fifteen percent over the past thirty years (Kim & Losen, 2010). These widely used zero tolerance policies have directly aided in the increase of student discipline rates nationwide. Currently, there has been much controversy and reconsideration of the effectiveness of zero tolerance policies on students. In 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan requested that administrators and district officials to consistently revisit discipline policies for equity and fairness based on the latest research (Losen, 2011). Initially, these zero tolerance policies were implemented for firearm and weapon infractions as a result of school shooting incidents, such as Columbine High School (Skiba & Peterson, 2000). Although the safety of all students is the aim of every educator, there is a desperate need to revisit the role of zero tolerance policies for less-threatening behaviors. Some administrators are using these policies for infractions ranging from cell phone use to uniform violations. Because zero tolerance violations normally result in school suspension or expulsions, instructional time is directly impacted.

Discipline and  Academic   Repercussions Nationwide, the increasingly broad interpretations of zero tolerance policies have led to a “near epidemic” state in national education for both discipline and academics

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(Skiba & Peterson, 1999). Zero tolerance policies have now allowed administrators to use extreme consequences for student behavior. Today, most students with discipline issues within the public school setting are usually handled through suspensions or expulsions (Lewis, Butler, Bonner, & Joubert, 2010). Now, school extraction is used for even seemingly trivial events that rarely interfere with the safety of the school. The American Psychological Association concluded that there is no evidence that zero-tolerance disciplinary policies improve school safety or student behavior (Losen, 2011). Furthermore, in a longitudinal study, they found that these policies serve more as a “reinforce” versus a punisher of student behavior (Losen, 2011). There are several negative consequences from these policies that directly damage students academically. One study found that even few days of disrupted instructional time can negatively effect student academics (Kim et al., 2010). The popular methods of school extraction jeopardize students of needed instructional time. Disheartening statistics show that students who are suspended are nearly twice as likely to be retained, drop out, or commit a crime. Even more alarming, these students frequently become incarcerated as adults (Kim et al., 2010).

Discipline Bias There are some demographic groups that are more widely represented in discipline data. Both student suspensions and expulsions are nationally higher for males versus females (Kim et al., 2010). In 2006, there were 2.3 million males suspended from school during this one academic school year (Kim et al., 2010). Moreover, there is an additional dichotomy that impacts student suspension disparities. Most often, minorities – especially Blacks and Latinos – also suffer most from district zero tolerance policies. Although many administrators argue that zero tolerance policies eliminate the subjectivity of school discipline, there is much to be implied from the growing trends in minority suspension rates, without

substantial research supporting any generational changes in behavior (Kim et al, 2010). One particular study shows that Black students are more likely than their white counterparts to be disciplined for the same infraction (Kim et al, 2010). A further study indicates that Black students are often punished for subjective and unclear policies, such as disrespect and loitering, versus their white counterparts (Losen, 2011; Russell & Skiba, 1999).

“There are several negative consequences from these policies that directly damage students academically. One study found that even few days of disrupted instructional time can negatively effect student academics (Kim et al., 2010). The popular methods of school extraction jeopardize students of needed instructional time. Disheartening statistics show that students who are suspended are nearly twice as likely to be retained, drop out, or commit a crime.”


RESEARCH BREF Spring 2012

DISCIPLINE Research cont.

Data Figure 1:  Percentage  of  public  school  students  in  9th  through  12th  grade  who  had  ever  been  suspended,  by  sex  and  race/ethnicity:  2007

SOURCE: U.S.  Department  of  EducaJon,  NaJonal  Center  for  EducaJon  StaJsJcs,  Parent  and  Family  Involvement  in  EducaJon  Survey  of  the   NaJonal  Household  EducaJon  Surveys  Program  (PFI-­‐NHES),

References

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Champion, T.B., Rosa-Lugo, L.I., Rivers, K.O., & McCabe, A. (2010). A preliminary investigation of second- and fourth-grade African American students’ performance on the Gray Oral Reading Test-Fourth edition. Topics in Language Disorders, 30(2), 145-153. Connor, C.M. & Craig, H.K. (2006). African American preschoolers’ language, emergent literacy skills, and use of African American English: A complex relation. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 49, 771-792. umber of  students   who  were   suspended  and   expelled   from   public  elementary   and   secondary   schools  Journal by   Craig,Table   H. K.,1:  &NWashington, J. A. (2004). Grade-Related Changes in the Production of African American English. of Speech, Language & sex:  Hearing 2002,  2004,   and  2006 Research, 47(2), 450-463. DOI:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/036) Goodman, G.S. & Hilton, A.A. (2010). Urban dropouts: Why persist? In Steinburg, S.R. (Ed.), 19 Urban Questions. New York: Peter Lang. Greene, J.P. & Winters, M. (2005). Public high school graduate rates and college readiness. New York: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Hale, J.E. (1982) Black children: Their roots, culture, and learning style. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press. Kornhaber, M.L. (2004) Assessment, standards, and equity. In J.A. Banks & C.A.M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education (2nd ed., pp.91-109). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Schott Foundation for Public Education (2010). Yes we can: The Schott 50 state report on education and Black males. Retrieved February 18, 2011, f rom "##$%&&'(")##*)+,-.#/),0)12&$+34/(.#/),'&'(")##56787534.(95:.4;51;$)1#0$-*! Terry, N., Connor, C., Thomas-Tate, S., & Love, M. (2010). Examining relationships among dialect variation, literacy skills, and school context in first grade. Journal of Speech, Language, & Hearing Research, 53 (1), 126-145. Utley, C.A. (2002). Functionalizing assessment for African American learners in general and special education programs. In F.E. Obiakor & B.A. Ford (Eds.) Creating successful learning environments for African American learners with exceptionalities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), NAEP 1999 Trends in Academic Progress; and 2004 and 2008 Long-Term Trend Reading Assessments, retrieved May 12, 2009, from the Long-Term Trend NAEP Data Explorer (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/).

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Source: SOURCE:  U.S.  Department  of  EducaJon,  Office  for  Civil  Rights,  Civil  Rights  Data  CollecJon,  2002,  2004,  and  2006. References Aud, S., Hussar, W., Kena, G., Bianco, K., Frohlich, L., Kemp, J., Tahan, K. (2011). The Condition of Education 2011 (NCES 2011-033). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Blake, M. E. & Sickle, M.V. (2001). Helping linguistically diverse students share what they know. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(5), 468-475. Champion, T.B., Rosa-Lugo, L.I., Rivers, K.O., & McCabe, A. (2010). A preliminary investigation of second- and fourth-grade African American students’ performance on the Gray Oral Reading Test-Fourth edition. Topics in Language Disorders, 30(2), 145-153. Craig, H. K., & Washington, J. A. (2004). Grade-Related Changes in the Production of African American English. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 47(2), 450-463. DOI:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/036) Fogel, H. & Ehri, L.C. (2006). Teaching African American English forms to standard American English-Speaking teachers: Effects on acquisition, attitudes, and responses to student use. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(5), 464-480. Johnston, J. (2010, August). Early reading results show substantial improvements in reading skills. Vanderbuilt University. Retrieved from: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2010/08/early-results-show-substantial-improvements-in-reading-skills/ Jonsberg, S.D. (2011). What’s (White) teacher to do about Black English? The English Journal, 90(4), 51-53. Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (2011). Even start facts and figures: Student achievement and school accountability programs. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/sasa/esfacts.html. Pittman, R. (2007) Improving spelling ability among speakers of African American Vernacular English: An intervention based on phonological, morphological, and orthographic principles. Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, United States -- Texas. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses @ Texas A&M System.(Publication No. AAT

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RESEARCH BREF Spring 2012

DISCIPLINE Research cont.

Findings

Discussion

Figure 1 above depicts national suspension percentages by race. This trend is severely important when disaggregating suspension and expulsion rates by ethnicity. According to Figure 1, fifty-seven (57) percent of Black male students had been suspended or expelled at least once. They are the highest demographic. Hispanic males reported at thirty-five (35) percent. White males reported at twenty-four (24) percent. Although in nearly every case females had lower percentage rates than their male counterparts, it is to be noted that Black, biracial, and Hispanic females reported at thirtyeight (38), twenty-three (23), and seventeen (17) percent respectively.

All too often, districts are implementing methods of zero tolerance as a way to maintain expected student behavior without eradicating the root of core discipline issues. In one North Carolina public school system, there is a particular focus on two rules that have strategically been identified as key contributors to the district’s suspension rates. Revisiting the rules “noncompliance” and “discourteous acts,” are considered subjective and particularly harmful to district suspension rates (Guilford County Strategic Plan, 2012). These two particular rules were responsible for 57 percent of the district’s suspension rate. In the case of these particular district policies, zero tolerance was replaced with Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS). Taking action against subjective and interpretive rules, such as noncompliance and discourteousness, is imperative for improving district discipline. Furthermore, this is in compliance with the aforementioned request of U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. It is critical for districts to revisit all discipline policies and implement strategies suggested from the latest research.

Table 1 provides national data from 2002, 2004, and 2006. This data is intended to provide national trends in suspension and expulsion rates. As noted in the table, in 2002 there were 3,083,810 suspensions nationwide. In 2006, this number increased to 3,328,750. The same trend is seen in expulsions. In 2002 the expulsion numbers were 89,131. This number likewise increased in 2006 to 102,080. For both suspensions and expulsions, males far exceeded female students – more than doubling in both cases. Significant research needs to be explored on gender-based strategies that improve male achievement and discipline rates.

Recommenda)ons for  Administrators

• Allow students to reflect and document their perspective of the discipline infraction through student narratives or testimonies. • Seek help from school psychologist, counselor, or social worker • Seek English as a Second Language (ESL) aid for Latino and Latina students. This is also important if there is a language barrier when communicating with parents and family. • In issues of noncompliance or class disruptions, consider student and teacher relationships. If repetitive problems occur for certain teachers, consider professional development.

Recommenda)ons for  District  Officials   and  Policy  Makers • Consistently revise discipline policies to reflect latest research • Eliminate school extraction as a means of discipline for infractions that do not impede on school safety • Before  suspension  or  expulsion,  guarantee   students  the  right  to  a  due  process  hearing • Encourage teachers to implement positive behavior strategies in the classroom • Require teachers to document several attempts of positive behavior strategies before any school extraction

• Require teachers to first notify parents and/or guardians of student misbehavior to see if behavior persists. Seek family support.

References

Heitzeg, N. (2009). Education or incarceration: Zero tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline. Forum on Public Policy Online, 2009(2), 121. Kim, C.Y., Losen, D.J., & Hewitt, D.T. (2010). The school-to-prison pipeline. NewYork: New York University Press. Kim, J.H. & Taylor, K.A (2008). Rethinking alternative education to break the cycle of educational inequality and inequity. The Journal of Educational Research. 101(4), 1-78. Lewis, C.W., Butler, B.R., Bonner, F.A., & Joubert, M. (2010). African American male discipline patterns and school district responses resulting impact on academic achievement: Implications for urban educators and policy makers. Journal of African American Males in Education, 1(1), 1-19. Losen, D. J. Skiba, R. J. (2010). Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis. Montgomery, AL: Southern Poverty Law Center. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/suspended-education. National Center for Educational Statistics. (2001). Dropout rates in the United States (NCES: 2004). Washington DC: National Center for Educational Statistics. Skiba, R. & Peterson, R. (1999). The dark side of zero tolerance: Can punishment lead to safe schools? Phi Delta Kappan, 80(5), 372-382. Skiba, R.J. & Peterson, R.L. School Discipline at a Crossroads: From Zero Tolerance to Early Response. Phi Delta Kappan, 66(3), 2000. U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2007). Civil Rights Data Collection, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Education. (2008). National Center for Education Statistics, Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (2008-050). Washington, D.C.

Suggested Cita,on:  Watson,  M.  (2011).  Zero  tolerance  and  school  discipline  policies:  Implica3ons  for  administrators  and  policy  makers.  (UNCC  UERPA  Research   Report,  April,  2012,  No.  1)  CharloDe,  NC:  University  of  North  Carolina  at  CharloDe,  College  of  Educa,on,  Urban  Educa,on  Research  and  Policy  Collabora,ve.  

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References Guidelines: Submission The   Urban   Educa,on   Research   and   olicy  Collabora,ve   accepts   manuscripts   for  ofreview   and   publica,on   considera,on   for  the   Research   Brief  sCenter eries.  forSubmiDed  manuscripts  should  not   Aud, S., Hussar, W., Kena, G., Bianco, K.,PFrohlich, L., Kemp, J., Tahan, K. (2011). The Condition Education 2011 (NCES 2011-033). U.S. Department of Education, National Washington, Office. exceed  1,000  Education words  aStatistics. nd  must   conform  DC: to  tU.S. he  gGovernment uidelines  Printing outlined   in  the  6th  Edi,on  of  the  Publica3on  Manual  of  the  American  Psychological  Associa3on.  All  manuscripts  will  undergo  a   Blake, M. E. & Sickle, M.V. (2001). Helping linguistically diverse students share what they know. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(5), 468-475. blind   review  and  refereed  process.  The  review  process  takes  approximately  3-­‐4  weeks.  Manuscripts  can  be  submiDed  for  review  via  e-­‐mail  to  Dr.  Chance  Lewis   Champion, T.B., Rosa-Lugo, L.I., Rivers, K.O., & McCabe, A. (2010). A preliminary investigation of second- and fourth-grade African American students’ performance on the Gray Oral (chance.lewis@uncc.edu). Reading Test-Fourth edition. Topics in Language Disorders, 30(2), 145-153. Craig, H. K., & Washington, J. A. (2004). Grade-Related inethe Production African American English. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 47(2), 450-463. Correspondence   regarding   this   report   may  be  sChanges ent  via   -­‐mail   to:  mof watso35@uncc.edu DOI:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/036) Fogel, H. & Ehri, L.C. (2006). Teaching African American English forms to standard American English-Speaking teachers: Effects on acquisition, attitudes, and responses to student use. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(5), 464-480. Johnston, J. (2010, August). Early reading results show substantial improvements in reading skills. Vanderbuilt University. Retrieved from: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2010/08/early-results-show-substantial-improvements-in-reading-skills/ Jonsberg, S.D. (2011). What’s (White) teacher to do about Black English? The English Journal, 90(4), 51-53. Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (2011). Even start facts and figures: Student achievement and school accountability programs. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/sasa/esfacts.html. Pittman, R. (2007) Improving spelling ability among speakers of African American Vernacular English: An intervention based on phonological, morphological, and orthographic principles. Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University, United States -- Texas. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses @ Texas A&M System.(Publication No. AAT

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Watson Research Brief  

Zero Tolerance and School Discipline Policies: Implications for Administrators and Policy Makers

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