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EFFECT OF DISCIPLINARY POLICY
Instrument to be used
Future use of study results
Over the last few decades the institution of education has undergone many changes. One of the most scrutinized areas of education currently is the area of discipline. The recent rash of violence across the nation at high school has caused the focus to turn to discipline. The Columbine killings among other violent school events have caused experts to begin looking at bullies, violence, at risk students and others to discover what the key is to turning them around in their school career. One discipline method that has been used for years is removal of the offending student from the general student population. The student who is removed is done so either through suspension or expulsion. Suspension and expulsion are used in many situations as discipline. When students break zero tolerance policies, or they are habitually truant or tardy, or they consistently defy directives from school administrators suspension or expulsion are often used as tools to try and move the student back to appropriate behaviors while at the same time removing them from the general population so they cannot continue to be disruptive.
While suspension and expulsion have been used for many yeas as disciplinary tools the violence and other problems at schools have continued. A suspension removes the student for a set number of days which are often determined by the seriousness of the offense and the number of student offenses in the past. An expulsion removes the student for a longer period, often a school year and requires them to go to an alternative school setting and earn their way back to their regular school.
This study is designed to measure the effect of suspension and expulsion on students and school systems in America.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Each year an estimated 2 million students are suspended or expelled from school in America. These separations from student population are implemented for infractions of school rules that can be as serious as zero tolerance violations or as non-violent as habitual tardies or refusal to comply with school rules. Over 6,000 of those were because of weapons possession on school grounds which leaves almost 2 million who were expelled or suspended for other reasons (Bumbarger pg 1). While the continued use of suspension and expulsion has occurred there has been little evidence to back its effectiveness. The use of suspension or expulsion is supposed to accomplish two things. The first thing it does is remove the student from the population so that he or she is not a distraction, a danger or a disruption to the school. The second thing it is meant to do is to give time to the student to rehabilitate and turn over a new leaf before being allowed to return to the general student population (Bumbarger pg 1). The student who is suspended can be suspended either in school or out of school. In school suspension is for lesser offenses than out of school but still serves the same purpose and targets the same responses. In school suspension is held away from the general student population and while the student is on campus they are kept from any contact including having private lunches for as many days as the in school lasts. During in school suspension most schools allow the student to do his class work in the in school suspension room. Out of school suspension removes the child from the campus and does not allow him or her to come back for a set number of days. In many cases an out of school suspension mandates all zeros for any work or tests that occur within the out of school time frame. Expulsion is when the student is removed for longer than out of school. Most expulsion are for a semester or a year and the student is sent to an alternative school setting that is much more structured and the student is expected to earn his or her way out.
While the use of suspension as a discipline tool has been accepted for many years across the nation there is little research that it works. It is important as the nation continues to revamp the school system to determine the effectiveness of suspension and expulsion as a tool of discipline.
While suspension and expulsion has been used for years across the nation there is some evidence that where one attends school also helps to determine how often it will be used to discipline students. One study concluded that in the Metro East St. Louis area school district that the students of that district have a higher risk of being suspended than students in other area districts (Sultan, 2002).
The Metro East rate of suspending students was nearly twice the state average at 20 suspensions per 100 students during the last school year (Sultan, 2002). Districts in St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties handed out 13,553 suspensions to 9,521 students, or about 10% of the student population.In some districts, however, the numbers were significantly higher. In Madison and Cahokia school districts, nearly a third of all the students were suspended at least once last year. Those districts, along with East St. Louis, Venice and O'Fallon Township High School had the highest suspension rates in the area and were among the highest in the state. Metro East districts also handed out repeat suspensions for students at a greater rate than elsewhere in the state (Sultan, 2002). "
The state began keeping tabs on the student suspension rate three years ago to determine if administrators were passing out punishments that do not work (Sultan, 2002). The repeat offense rate of students who have been suspended was looked at to decide the questions of effectiveness at least in that district. The results also happened to provide the information on which districts suspended the most students which provided data for future studies about the subject.
Some experts believe that developing a chronic suspension habit is the worst thing that can happen to a student and sets the stage for a negative self-fulfilling prophecy (Sultan, 2002).
A chronic pattern of suspension is one of the worst things that can happen to a kid," said Jeff Sprague, co-director of the Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior at the University of Oregon. Research shows that students who are repeatedly suspended from school are more likely to drop out and commit juvenile crimes, Sprague said. But frustrated school administrators say they have to maintain order in schools so the majority of students can learn (Sultan, 2002)."
The study in Madison County schools discovered that the majority of the suspensions were for being tardy to school or to classes once they arrived at school and not for violent or zero tolerance offenses.
The district tried a new approach this year for about a dozen students (Sultan, 2002). Some of the students who have been repeatedly suspended are put in a classroom where a teacher and teacher's aide work with them individually. But with 250 students suspended more than once last year, that program may not be enough, Allison acknowledged (Sultan, 2002). Cahokia is another district with numerous repeat suspensions. School officials there handed out 63 suspensions per 100 students last year. Researchers, including Sprague, say many suspensions could be avoided if teachers better managed their classrooms (Sultan, 2002). Principals in Cahokia are tracking the number of referrals sent from each teacher this year to identify the ones who may need help, said Cahokia superintendent Jed Deets (Sultan, 2002). Anderson of East St. Louis said a lack of facilities contributes to the problem. He wants to start an alternative middle school, in addition to the alternative high school program. Deets pointed out a relationship between high levels of poverty and higher suspension rates. But poverty doesn't explain last year's rate of 37 suspensions per 100 students in the O'Fallon High School District, which has a relatively low poverty rate. School principal Dennis Grimmer said school officials realized that their suspension rate was too high. Many of those students get suspended because they are repeatedly late for classes (Sultan, 2002)."
The study also concluded that many of those who were being suspended were repeat suspense recipients. They had been suspended already with many of then being suspended more than once before.
This study also looked at schools that managed to reduce their suspension level over the last three years. One district lowered their rate from 48 suspensions in each 100 students to less than 21 students suspended out of every hundred.
This district attributes its reduced suspension rate to the new alternative program that it has implemented. In its alternative system the parents of the students spend the day in the in school suspension room when their student is sent there for being tardy to school to often. According to collected data it has helped reduce the number of tardies the students are committing (Sultan, 2002).…[continue]
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