Education Leaders Report
Volume 1, No. 2
Advancing School Discipline Reform
Exclusionary discipline practices such as suspensions and expulsion aim to create orderly, safe classrooms, but there is little evidence they actually work. Moreover, students of color and those with disabilities experience such school discipline more often than their peers. American Institutes for Research analysts Greta Colombi and David Osher explore the research on punitive school discipline and zero-tolerance policies, their effects on student achievement and engagement, and a range of more effective disciplinary strategies that should supplant them. “Punitive discipline has increasingly been used as a quick fix to what often is a chronic, long-term problem,” Colombi and Osher write, an approach that has created more problems. Zero-tolerance policies often do not improve school climate: Suspended students are more likely to struggle academically, drop out of school, commit violent crimes, and enter the juvenile justice system. State policymakers can advance school discipline reform and improve school climate, say Colombi and Osher. State boards of education can work with state agencies to develop policies and support practices that strengthen the data collection, analysis, and stakeholder collaboration needed for such reform.