Discipline without derailing : an investigation of exclusionary discipline practices in schools




Cohen, Rebecca Weil

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Maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment in schools is fundamental to the greater goals of education, but determining optimal disciplinary responses to student misbehavior is often complicated. While there is an abundance of research that speaks to the negative impact of exclusionary discipline (e.g., suspension, expulsion or any other disciplinary response that removes a student from the traditional classroom setting) on student behavioral and academic outcomes, there is an absence of work that examines if, when, and to what extent a student is actually better off receiving non-exclusionary dispositions. Using multivariate regression analysis on a unique dataset from an urban Texas school district, this study directly compares the impact of exclusionary vs. non-exclusionary discipline on student outcomes (controlling for student characteristics, school characteristics, and offense type). Additionally, the study examines the extent to which offense type influences the relationship between disposition and student outcomes. The study’s findings suggest that a student is generally worse off in terms of academic progress and risk of future offenses when she/he receives an exclusionary disposition for any disciplinary infraction. The impact of exclusion, however, was shown to vary by student offense.



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