Disciplinary experiences, math coursework, and racial/ethnic and gender inequality




Snidal, Matthew James

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In the U.S., school discipline can have reverberating consequences for students. For example, students who receive out-of-school suspension tend to be less engaged in academic subjects, particularly the core subject of mathematics. Importantly, this process is stratified along the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender, with Black students more likely to be suspended than other groups of students and Black girls experiencing particularly large disparities in suspension relative to girls from other racial/ethnic backgrounds. To understand such disparities, scholars have employed labeling and life course theories to the experience of suspension, but have used narrow conceptualizations of suspension, most commonly whether a student was suspended in a time-period. This narrow conceptualization—and the simple binary operationalization that follows it—likely obscures important insights about the gendered and racialized implications of school suspension that could be better investigated through conceptualizing school suspension more dynamically. This dynamic conceptualization can be operationalized in three ways with student records from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on out-of-school suspension during 9th grade: 1) the frequency dimension; 2) the duration dimension; and 3) the timing dimension. Drawing on a theoretical foundation integrating life course and labeling theories, this dissertation attempts to build on a broad base of empirical evidence by considering how disparities in suspension are dynamic, intersectional, cross-domain, and contextualized. In Chapter 1, I introduce the topics of school suspension and math course taking and present a conceptual model for the dissertation. In Chapter 2, I extend the dynamic perspective of suspension with an intersectional lens that captures how conceptualizations of suspension can portray disparities in different ways. In Chapter 3, I consider how dynamic suspension shapes outcomes math and how this connection varies across intersectional groups of students. In Chapter 4, the role of peer contexts is used to evaluate if the penalties of dynamic suspension vary according to whether the experience of suspension was more or less normative in the school. In Chapter 5, I present the theoretical and policy implications from the dissertation.



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