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Breaking Schools' Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students' Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

NCJ Number
Tony Fabelo, Ph.D.; Michael D. Thompson; Martha Plotkin, J.D.; Dottie Carmichael Ph.D.; Miner P. Marchbanks III, Ph.D.; Eric A. Booth, M.A.
Date Published
July 2011
124 pages
This report presents the results of a study examining the effect of school discipline on students' success and their involvement with the juvenile justice system.
This report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute presents the results of a study examining the effects of school discipline on students' success and their involvement with the juvenile justice system. Key findings from the study include the following: 1) nearly 6 in 10 public school students in the study were suspended or expelled at least once between their 7th and 8th grade school years; 2) African-American students and those with educational disabilities were disproportionately more likely to be removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons; 3) students who were suspended and/or expelled, especially those who were repeatedly disciplined, were more likely to be held back a grad or to drop out of school compared to students not involved in the disciplinary system; 4) students expelled or suspended had a significantly higher likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system compared to other students; and 5) suspension and expulsion rates among schools varied significantly. Using school and juvenile justice system records from Texas, this study examined the effect of school disciplinary policies and procedures on student outcomes including their involvement with the juvenile justice system. Data for the study were obtained from several sources: analysis of individual school records and school campus data for all seventh-grade public school students in Texas for the years 2000 through 2002; analysis of each grade's student records for at least a 6-year period; and information from the State's juvenile justice database. These findings indicate that disciplinary policies at the school can have a significant effect on outcomes for students involved in the disciplinary process and that these same policies can be changed in order to improve students' outcomes. Implications for future research are discussed. Tables, figures, appendixes, and references