Discipline Disparities — Myths and Facts

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In 2014 the Equity Project at Indiana University published an overview of existing research, as well as new research, that addresses inequities in school discipline.  In a summary entitled Discipline Disparities: Myths and Facts,  Dr. Russell Skiba et al address some common misperceptions:

Myth #1:  Disparities aren’t really due to race, class or sexual orientation; they are primarily about the challenges of poverty, inadequate home lives and violent communities.

Fact:  Poverty does not fully explain racial disparities (New Research Brief, p. 2).

Fact:  School factors (such as racial diversity, school decision-making processes, and experiences/perceptions of school climate) are stronger predictors of disparities than individual student factors or the reasons for which students are suspended (New Research Brief, p. 3).

Myth #2:  Racial disparities are really due to worse behavior among students of color.

Fact:  There is no evidence that racial disparities in discipline are due to higher rates of misbehavior by African-American students (New Research Brief, p. 2).

Fact:  If anything, African-American students are punished more severely for similar or less serious behaviors than their peers (New Research Brief, p. 2).

Myth #3:  Suspension and expulsion are used infrequently and primarily to address serious acts of misbehavior.

Fact:  Exclusionary discipline is actually used extensively — especially for African-American males.  Between 1/3 and 1/2 of all students will experience at least one suspension/ expulsion during their K-12 careers, compared to 70% of African-American males (Policy Brief, p. 2).

Fact:  Suspension is used mostly for non-safety-threatening incidents (Policy Brief, p. 1).

Fact:  The greatest disproportionality in discipline for African-American students is based on subjective and relational-based issues such as “defiance” and “disruptive behavior” (Policy Brief, p. 5).

New Research Brief and Policy Brief are components of the Discipline Disparity Series published by the Equity Project at Indiana University.  To access the entire report, go to http://rtpcollaborative.indiana.edu/briefing-papers/.


With locations this year in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Niagara Falls, Ontario the School Discipline Conference will be a must-attend gathering for principals, deans, behavior specialists, teachers, social workers, counselors and who are focused on improving academic performance by applying the most current innovations and research to the arena of behavior intervention and classroom management.

Pre-Registration $395
(til 11:59 pm May 31st)
Regular Registration $425


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