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Changes in Exclusionary and Nonexclusionary Discipline in Grades K–5 Following State Policy Reform in Oregon

Region:
Northwest
Description:

Oregon has enacted policy reforms to reduce exclusionary discipline and increase racial equity in school discipline practices. One such reform passed in 2015 limits the use of exclusionary discipline (i.e., removing students from classroom instruction through suspension and expulsion) for students in grades K–5 for infractions that do not pose a direct threat to the safety of others. This study examined school discipline practices in a voluntary sample of 401 Oregon elementary schools to determine whether the 2015 policy reform was associated with shifts in how exclusionary discipline and nonexclusionary discipline was applied among racial and ethnic student groups. Nonexclusionary discipline does not remove students from classroom instruction and may include teacher conferences, parent/guardian contact, detention, and other consequences. Descriptive findings indicate that there was an increase in the total number of exclusionary and nonexclusionary discipline actions after the 2015 policy reform compared to the pre-policy years. Black students, in particular, experienced the largest increase in exclusionary discipline after the 2015 policy reform than before the reform, and were two to three times more likely to experience exclusionary discipline than all other students across study years. For most racial and ethnic student groups, office discipline referrals for minor, disruptive, and/or aggressive behavioral infractions that were not a school safety concern became less likely to result in exclusionary discipline, and therefore more likely to result in nonexclusionary discipline than before the reform. However, for Black students the opposite was true. Office discipline referrals issued to Black students after the 2015 policy reform became more likely to result in exclusionary discipline for all office discipline referrals and referrals issued for disruptive behaviors. The study findings provide information that will help state policymakers better understand the changes in exclusionary and nonexclusionary discipline practices before and after the 2015 policy reform and identify areas for improving racial equity in school discipline actions.

Publication Type:
Descriptive Study
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
February 2021