Connect With Us
TWlogo  FBlogo

 “Racial discrimination in school discipline is real, and it is a real problem.”

Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, January 2014

For more about Discipline Disparities research:
Click here

The Equity Project at Indiana University in the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy:
Our website

The Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative is supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Foundations
Special Issue: New Research on Discipline Disparities
A proliferation of research on discipline and disparities has emerged over the last two years. This issue of the Discipline Disparities Highlights focuses on that new and emerging research, and also provides information on key reports and updates in disciplinary reform.
For previous issues of Discipline Disparities Highlights, please visit:

Racial/Ethnic Disparities

Parsing Disciplinary Disproportionality: Contributions of Infraction, Student, and School Characteristics to Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion by Russell J. Skiba, Choong-Geun Chung, Megan Trachok, Timberly L. Baker, Adam Sheya, and Robin L. Hughes

Source: American Educational Research Journal, August 2014, Vol. 51, Issue 4, pp. 640-670

Examined the simultaneous contributions of the type of infraction, student characteristics, and school characteristics in predicting rates of out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Most notably, school-level variables, including principal perspectives on discipline, were found to be among the strongest predictors of racial disparities in out-of-school suspension.

The Persistent Effect of Race and the Promise of Alternatives to Suspension in School Discipline Outcomes by Yolanda Anyon, Jeffrey M. Jenson, Inna Altschul, Jordan Farrar, Jeanette McQueen, Eldridge Greer, Barbara Downing, and John Simmons

Source: Children and Youth Services Review, September 2014, Vol. 44, pp. 379-386

Using multilevel logistic regression modeling, the study examined the influence of multi-level risk and protective factors on exclusionary school discipline in grades K to 12 in Denver Public Schools during the 2011-12 school year. Student racial background and school racial composition were found to be enduring risks across key decision points of the school disciplinary process.

Middle School Black and White Student Assignment to Disciplinary Consequences: A Clear Lack of Equity by Michele Hilberth and John Slate

Source: Education & Urban Society; May 2014, Vol. 46, Issue 3, pp. 312-328

Analysis of 2008-2009 data revealed that Black students received in-school suspension at more than twice the percentage of their representation in the overall student sample population. Similar results were found for out-of-school suspension, and alternative education placement.

Office Disciplinary Referral Patterns of American Indian Students from Elementary School through High School by Denise K. Whitford and Deborah Levine-Donnerstein

Source: Behavioral Disorders, February 2014, Vol. 39, Issue 2, pp. 78-88

Examined office discipline referrals (ODRs) for students in K-12 in two southwestern public school districts with large American Indian populations. Results of a logistic regression analysis showed that American Indian students were more likely to receive ODRs than Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian students, but less likely than African Americans.

Disability Status

Exclusionary Discipline of Students with Disabilities: Student and School Characteristics Predicting Suspension by Amanda L. Sullivan, Ethan R. Van Norman, and David A. Klingbeil

Source: Remedial and Special Education, July/August 2014, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp. 199-210.

Explored patterns and predictors of school suspension in a sample of 2,750 students with disabilities in 39 schools in a Midwestern district. Hierarchical linear modeling demonstrated that disability type, gender, race/ethnicity, and free/reduced lunch status were significant predictors of suspension among students with disabilities.

School Discipline, Truancy, and Juvenile Justice

From the School Yard to the Squad Car: School Discipline, Truancy, and Arrest by Kathryn Monahan, Susan VanDerhei, Jordan Bechtold, and Elizabeth Cauffman

Source: Journal of Youth & Adolescence, July 2014, Vol. 43, Issue 7, pp. 1110-1122

Using data from a longitudinal study of delinquent adolescents, the study examined how suspension or expulsion and truancy are associated with the likelihood of arrest. Most notably, findings showed that an adolescent was 2.10 times more likely to get arrested in months when he/she was suspended or expelled from school, compared to months when the adolescent was not suspended or expelled from school. In months when a youth was truant from school, he or she was 2.42 times more likely to be arrested compared to months when the adolescent was not truant from school.

Interventions and Strategies for Reducing Exclusionary Discipline


Examining classroom influences on student perceptions of school climate: The role of classroom management and exclusionary discipline strategies by Mary M. Mitchell and Catherine P. Bradshaw

Source: Journal of School Psychology, October 2013, Vol. 51, Issue 5, pp. 599-610

Examined the association between two different classroom management strategies to promote a positive classroom environment and improve students’ perceptions of school climate. Using multilevel structural equation modeling, greater use of exclusionary discipline strategies were found to be associated with lower scores on order and discipline scores, whereas greater use of positive behavior supports was found to be associated with higher scores on order and discipline, fairness, and student-teacher relationship.


How Teachers Use Power in the Classroom to Avoid or Support Exclusionary School Discipline Practices by Debra Mayes Pane, Tonette S. Rocco, Lynne D. Miller, and Angela K. Salmon

Source: Urban Education, April 2014, Vol. 49, Issue 3, pp. 297-328

This critical micro-ethnography explored the relationship between classroom interactions and exclusionary school discipline practices within and across four classrooms in a disciplinary alternative school. In classrooms characterized by infrequent exclusionary discipline, they report teachers rarely or never used coercion, consistently used normative power, and interactively established contracts.

State and Federal Education Policy to Reduce Disproportionality in School Exclusion

Zero Benefit: Estimating the Effect of Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies on Racial Disparities in School Discipline by Stephen Hoffman

Source: Educational Policy, January 2014, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 69-95

Evaluated the effect of zero tolerance disciplinary policies on racial disparities in school discipline in an urban district. Using negative binomial regression discontinuity analysis, results show that after the implementation of zero tolerance policy, the difference in the proportion of days suspended between Black students and White students increased.

International school discipline

How Other Countries “Do Discipline” by Richard Arum and Karly Ford
Source: Educational Leadership, October 2012, Vol. 70, Number 2, pp. 56-60

Drawing on assessment and survey data from 49 countries that participated in the 2003 TIMSS survey, the study examined the relationship between school discipline and student achievement. Across countries, the greater the differences among students’ backgrounds within a school, the higher the level of discipline problems.

Keeping California’s Kids in School: Fewer Students of Color Missing School for Minor Misbehavior by Daniel Losen, Tia E. Martinez, and Valerie Okelola

Source: The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, July 2014

Compared the California Department of Education’s 2012-2013 released data on school discipline to the 2011-2012 data. The authors concluded that progress has been made in reducing out-of-school suspensions for every racial/ethnic subgroup.

Prevention V. Punishment: Threat Assessment, School Suspensions and Racial Disparities by Dewey Cornell

Source: Just Children: A Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, University of Virginia Curry School of Education, December 2013

Documented the dimension of racial disparities in school suspension in Virginia and presented the results of implementation of the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (VSTAG), in particular, showing that the Guidelines are helping reduce the racial discipline gap.

Lessons in Racial Justice and Movement Building: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Colorado and Nationally by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos and Advancement Project

Source: Padres & Jóvenes Unidos and Advancement Project, August 2014

Explored the history of disciplinary reform efforts sponsored by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos and Advancement Project to address discriminatory school discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline. The report describes how results of this collaborative effort have contributed to a policy shift in Colorado that has set a hopeful example nationwide.

School Discipline in the Eyes of School Superintendents by The School Superintendents Association and Children’s Defense Fund

Source: The School Superintendents Association and Children’s Defense Fund, July 2014

This report, based on the 2014 AASA Superintendent School Discipline Survey, examined the status of, and opinions concerning, district-wide school discipline policies and practices from the perspective of 500 superintendents nationwide.

Discipline Disparities Updates
How do we fix the school-to-prison pipeline?
Interview with Daniel Losen, Director of The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, at The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, about how school districts and lawyers can help address the school-to-prison pipeline. More info:

Symposium: New Directions in Disciplinary Disproportionality: Results From a National Collaborative at APA Annual Convention
A panel of members and grant fundees of the Disciplinary Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative participated in the American Psychological Association annual convention, reporting on research, practice, and policy regarding disparities in discipline by race, gender, and sexual orientation. More info about the convention:

Racial Disparity in the School Education System
A panel of education experts, including Director of The Equity Project at Indiana University, Russell Skiba, participated in a discussion on HuffPost Live about the racial disparities in school discipline and different approaches to address them. More info:

Discipline Disparities in the News
Implicit bias and the school to prison pipeline
The article discusses racial disparities in school discipline and the implications of implicit bias, situations when individuals may harbor unconscious racial prejudices that can cause them to engage in discriminatory conduct without consciously realizing they are doing so. Read more:

More schools opt for ‘Positive Discipline’ instead of suspensions
Schools are looking for alternatives to punitive school discipline. Positive Discipline’s premise is that when kids act up, they get more face time with educators, not less. Research shows that alternatives to suspension can improve the social and academic climate in struggling schools. Read more:

Five things to know about suspension and expulsion in D.C. schools
A new report by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, D.C., about suspension and expulsion in traditional and charter schools, shows that approximately 12 percent of public school students during 2012-2013 in Washington D.C., were suspended at least once, and 3- and 4-year-olds were suspended out-of-school 181 times. Read more:

School discipline, race data prompt Ballard’s study plan
Recent data from the OCR Civil Rights Data Collection identify Indiana as one of the states with the highest rates of disparity in discipline between Black students and their peers. A new study, commissioned by the Indianapolis Mayor's office, will look more closely at expulsion, suspension, and dropout rates in Indianapolis’ schools, factors that influence those rates, and determine why racial disparities and differences among schools exist. Read more:

Federal investigators crack down on schools’ use of restraints
Two Virginia schools are under investigation for using restraints and seclusion as a disciplinary method for special education students’ misbehavior. According to the article, despite a near-consensus that these kinds of practices should be adopted rarely, some schools use them regularly to control children. Read more:

If you have specific information on discipline disparities or are engaged in/know of new research addressing discipline disparities, please email us at:

Copyright 2014 © Trustees of Indiana University   IUlogo

To unsubscribe from this list, send a new message to with unsubscribe discdisparity-l in the subject field and leave the message body blank.