Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Majority of Texas middle and high school students suspended or expelled

Here's the text of a press release received this morning from the Council of State Governments Justice Center revealing some startling trends in Texas school discipline:

Majority of Texas Middle and High School Students Suspended or Expelled:
Repeated Suspensions Predict Later Involvement in Juvenile Justice System
CSG Justice Center Releases New Report on How School
Discipline Relates to Academic and Juvenile Justice Outcomes
New York—In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released today by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement features these other key findings:
  • Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system.

  • Only three percent of the disciplinary actions were for conduct in which state law mandated suspensions and expulsions; the rest were made at the discretion of school officials primarily in response to violations of local schools’ conduct codes.

  • African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions.

  • Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once.

  • Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.
“We hope these findings strengthen efforts underway in Texas to improve outcomes for students, and help other states’ policymakers in examining school discipline practices so they can enhance students’ academic performance and reduce juvenile justice system involvement,” said CSG Justice Center Director Michael Thompson. “This report reflects an impressive commitment among Texas leaders to developing state-of-the-art electronic record-keeping systems and then using the data to answer important questions. Such data-driven policymaking should be the goal of state officials everywhere.”

The analysis considered in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) placements, and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) placements.  In-school suspensions ranged from a single class period to several consecutive days, and out-of-school suspensions averaged two days per incident.  Students assigned to DAEP were there for 27 days on average; JJAEP students were off the school campus for an average of 73 days. Informal actions (e.g., detention, parent/teacher meetings) were not reported to the Texas Education Agency and were therefore excluded from study.

“One of the most important takeaways from the report is learning that the school a student attends largely influences how, when, or if a student is removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons,” said Senator Florence Shapiro (R), chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee, and one of the lawmakers who supported the study. “The data suggests that individual school campuses often have a pronounced influence over how often students are suspended or expelled.”

This study, made possible in part through funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundations, relied on more than 6 million school and juvenile justice records (for every student who was in seventh grade in a Texas public school in academic years 2000, 2001 and 2002), even tracking those that moved from one school to another within the state.

“The report tells us that more than one in seven Texas middle and high school students have been involved with the juvenile justice system.   We should ask whether teachers and principals, rather than police officers and judges, are best suited to discipline kids who commit minor infractions.” said Texas Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, who is convening a meeting today in Austin to discuss the study’s findings.
This study is unprecedented in that it tracked not just a sample of students, but all seventh graders in the state for six years.  Using multivariate analyses to control for more than 83 variables, the study was able to isolate the relationships between such factors as race and school disciplinary actions, suspensions/expulsions and juvenile justice contact, and discretionary actions and academic success measured by being held back a grade or dropping out.

Senator John Whitmire (D), chair of the Texas Criminal Justice Committee, said, “We need to maintain realistic expectations of what educators alone can accomplish in today’s challenging classrooms.  At the same time, this report demonstrates that if we want our kids to do better in school and reduce their involvement in the juvenile justice system, we in the legislature need to continue looking into how teachers can be better supported and how the school discipline system can be improved.”

The CSG Justice Center plans to convene a group of leading experts and opinion leaders to discuss recommendations for policymakers and practitioners. This follow-up effort is meant to reach consensus on approaches across various public systems to address the study findings and build on the strong foundation of work by academics and professionals in the field.

The full report and an FAQ about the study findings can be downloaded at http://justicecenter.csg.org/resources/juveniles.

MORE: See a reaction from the ACLU of Texas. 


Sandy said...

So sad for our children and our future that policing has become more important than parenting.

Alan said...

I'll have to read the study at more leisure, but I'm confused going in. Is the assumption that the school discipline is causative of future criminality, rather than symptomatic of characteristics consistent with future criminality?

Anonymous said...

Whitmire bemoans the state of affairs he's helped put in place?

Anonymous said...

Get the kids who are discipline problems out of the classroom. The trouble makers make it impossible for the good kids to learn.

Anonymous said...

If we ignore what the students were/are doing we can blame school officials.

This report you cite was
"Funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Open Society Foundations." Both of these are extremely left wing organizations funded by George Soros. Do we see a pattern here?

sunray's wench said...

I think the reasons for the suspensions and expulsions need to be looked at carefully. There is a potential to exclude for a wider range of issues than just disruptive behaviour in the classroom, that must be challenged.

Parents need to provide the basics of disciplin, but teachers should not expect to not have to deal with students that wear a particular style of clothing or who have special educational needs that have not been fully or adequately assessed. Teachers should not cherry-pick which students they would like in their classrooms.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:41 asks, "Do we see a pattern here?"

Absolutely! The pattern is anonymous commenters trying to avoid confronting research-based findings by implying some hidden agenda or pretending to discredit research by alleging those performing it have adopted some party line from their funder.

By that logic, we should discredit the work of every John M. Olin professor out there, every research project backed by the Bradley, Scaife, Smith-Richardson or Coors Foundations, etc.. But that would be as reductionist and silly as your statement.

Confront the argument, if you can. Do you have a reason to disbelieve their data about how many students are suspended or expelled, or is this just knee-jerk partisan whining?

Anonymous said...

The lesson we should learn is that we can't throw teachers at a parenting problem.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we should examine agendas. Why do some people present only one side, only those bits of evidence that support what they want to believe and want the rest of us to believe. Yes, we can ignore the attitude, habits and behavior of many of these disruptive students and defame the teachers. Yes, if you are that kind of person, you can do that. You can assume that everyone is living in the same little left wing bubble that you live in.

James said...

I think it is deceptive to include in-school suspensions (ISS) in the count in order to get a sensationalized headline. ISS is usually used for what used to be called detention. It's basically a penalty box. If administered properly, the students are in a separate classroom for the specified time, and they are to work in silence on the classroom assignments given by their teachers. They are away from the regular class so they can't disrupt it, and they don't fall behind because they do their work.

When it isn't done properly, they just goof off for their specified time, which makes ISS counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

As a substitute teacher in a large urban Texas ISD, I can say that discipline is a great problem. I do not profess to know the answer. Some of it is parental, some societal (education is often not valued, bad behavior is provided as the norm), certainly it is part of the educational crisis. Some schools I will no longer sub at because of major discipline issues (I know students tend to show their worst behavior to subs).

Anonymous said...

Chicken or the egg debate....bad school policy or bad kid?
Schools need to do the very simplist thing...be fair!
Behavior should result in appropriate consequences. Consequences that do not care if the student is black, brown or green. Regardless of which side of town your on. Poorly behaved kids are a product of several things, but can be corrected with a fair honest school system that does not allow a kid to become the children of this report.

Anonymous said...

The key is to not let the kids with behavior issues adversely effect the kids who are well behaved and trying to learn. Teachers should be able to teach and children learn in an environment conducive to such. Frankly, I don't care what happens to continuously disruptive kids/discipline problems. Juv. Justice system or school district. Behave, be quiet or get the hell out.

rodsmith said...

yea not like it was in the old days. i know my parents especialy dad used to tell me if and my brothers if you get in a fight at school. Make sure you win. that way it will be worth the beating your going to get when you get home!

Anonymous said...

Sub again....Ideally, behavior problems would be dealt with by intervention at a young age (if they manifest at a young age) but a classroom teacher can't concentrate on one or two distrupters at the expense of the rest of the class. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be happening. With the coming increase in classroom sizes and reduction in staff, it surely won't happen.

Anonymous said...

This study has documented the ever changing of the school to a police state. What was once minor child behavior, has become a crime. Currently a school can arrest a kid and put them in county jail for disruption of class. Schools are going to far with their punishment. Funny how some of these posts are requesting to throw these bad kids out of class and turn out to be the first ones to raise hell when their own children are facing consequences at school.

Schools need to divert money from police departments and funnel the money into proven interventions that are more cost effective. These police officers do not have any required training in working with children and adolescents, which sometimes end up in disastrous results. By only providing police, the schools are only suppressing the problem.

Now on AEPS. AEPS in Texas also need to be reformed since they have no standards to adhere. These children are just being warehoused and are not given a decent education.

Most people do not care about what happens to these children since most come from low social economic status, thus not calling for any major reform.

I am excited this study was completed to bring awareness to some of our school's problem area in discipline policies. Maybe we can see some real change.

Anonymous said...

"Most people do not care about what happens to these children since most come from low social economic status ...."

Really? How many fathers of these children have even bothered to drop by and meet their own children? Many of them show no concern. Lets blame the teachers who are doing their best. Lets blame anyone who wants to establish even a minimal level of classroom order.

"I am excited this study was completed to bring awareness to some of our school's problem area in discipline policies. Maybe we can see some real change."

Really? What about some change in the kids household? Why do we not expect parents to teach discipline and habits of success.

Anonymous said...

....of course, blame the education system and police for trying to uphold a standard of accountability and norms. Liberals, big on government providing entitlements and handouts but shallow on government providing accountability

Anonymous said...


I am for law and order in schools. My point is the crime should fit the punishment. So I guess your okay for students to take up room in crowded jails for disrupting class?

Anonymous said...


How ironic that you tout small government at the same time approving the expansion of school police departments.

Anonymous said...

Schools should return to teaching, and stop trying to modify social behavior, feed the masses, and give them medical care. What you are seeing is what you get when you offer to raise someone's kids for them. Don't make the offer. They will obviously take you up on it.

PirateFriedman said...

This is society's equilibrium, the well socialized will tend to be separated from the antisocial. Don't we all want our kids to one day own a big house in Plano so they can be safe(er) from crime and incivility?

Kenneth D. Franks said...

There are problems with school discipline. Some problems are related to zero tolerance, others are related to how "in school suspensions" are handled and also how easy it is to be sent to alternative school for a minor offense. It is unfortunate that children who make mistakes in the school environment end up in the juvenile justice system when the problem could be handled by the school itself.

Anonymous said...

Juvenile Probation Officers have been saying this for years. Why does it take a sensationalized study to finally bring attention to the issue. We have been saying this for 20 years, even before ZERO TOLERANCE.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that children who make mistakes in the school environment . . . .

Mistakes? It seems to be its their lifestyle. The gang culture can be dismissed as a "mistake"?

To you, the problem is not the behavior, but the reaction to it. Looks like you love to blindfold yourself and say, "I SEE NOTHING!!!"

Anonymous said...

It is funny and odd that finally someone is bring the schools to the table!

Ive been waiting years to even see anyone at TEA show up be a part of any reform effort.

With this they were drug into the spotlight....bet the Commish of TEA resigns before its over!

Anonymous said...

I would second the comment from the juvenile probation officer. When I was researching my book, I spoke with juvenile justice staff and officials about the boom in referrals in the 1990s. Always they immediately pointed to the emergence of zero tolerance in the schools as a major cause.

The outcomes shown in the study are startling and have several causes. Pointing to individual failures of kids or parents may feel good but offers no real solution.

I would suggest that this is an example of why "prevention" and "early intervention" could and should be a major focus for the new, community-based juvenile justice system set up in the last legislative session.

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Almost half of the population in TYC was special ed. These are the ones that public school failed to identify or service. This is where I hold public school responsible.

Anonymous said...

The schools don't have programs that address the needs of special ed kids. They should first be identified and then programs should be developed for them. I hold the public schools responsible.

Anonymous said...

this is just further confirmation of a generation of research about the negative impact of separating youth with behavioral problems from the general population. it is what it is. There has to be more consideration put into the response of schools to behavioral problems.

Anonymous said...

You cannot just blame the child for the mistake. If the response of the school does nothing to change the behavior than other responses should be considered. It is not that difficult people. come on.

Anonymous said...

Whitmire refers to a program in Ft. Bend County that has JPO's in the schools. It sounds like it works. Maybe a model program for the new commission?

Anonymous said...

Alot of schools in New Mexico have the probation officers officed in the school. It is not a new concept. I think it would be a unique idea.