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Addressing disproportionality in discipline About the Addressing Disproportionality in Discipline Alliance

Across the nation, minority students, particularly black students, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities, are disproportionately subjected to exclusionary disciplinary practices that compromise students’ opportunities to learn.1 Beginning with work in Maryland, the school discipline alliance brings together staff from state education agencies and other state and local stakeholders to support efforts to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, discipline disparities.

1Losen, D. J., & Gillespie, J. (2012). Opportunities suspended: The disparate impact of disciplinary exclusion from school. Los Angeles, CA: Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED534184; Lacoe, J., & Steinberg, M. P. (2019, March). Do suspensions affect student outcomes? Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 41(1), 34–62. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1204837; Gregory, A., Skiba, R. J., & Noguera, P. A. (2010). The achievement gap and the discipline gap: Two sides of the same coin? Educational Researcher, 39(1), 59–68. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ886500; Fabelo, T., Thompson, M. D., Plotkin, M., Carmichael, D., Marchbanks, M. P., & Booth, E. A. (2011). Breaking schools’ rules: A statewide study of how school discipline relates to students’ success and juvenile justice involvement. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center.; U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2018, March). K-12 education: Discipline disparities for black students, boys, and students with disabilities (Publication No. GAO-18-258). Retrieved from https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-258; Barrett, N., McEachin, A., Mills, J., & Valant, J. (2019). Disparities in student discipline by race and family income (EdWorkingPaper No.19-53). Retrieved from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University website: http://edworkingpapers.com/ai19-53

What Stakeholders Say

Identifying Characteristics of Schools with Disproportionate Rates

  • Dara Shaw, Maryland State Department of Education

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The REL Mid-Atlantic: Addressing Disproportionality in Discipline Alliance

Infographic on understanding discipline disparities in Maryland Infographic on understanding discipline disparities in Maryland (408 KB)
This REL infographic discusses how to use data to identify disparities in discipline removals and how the REL is working with Maryland to improve disparities.

REL Mid-Atlantic partnered with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to conduct analyses of MSDE's school discipline data. MSDE sought to identify trends in, and school characteristics associated with, disproportionate rates of exclusionary discipline for students based on race/ethnicity and disability status. The report’s key findings include:

  • Exclusionary discipline rates declined for all subgroups of students in Maryland during the past decade, but Black students and students with disabilities continued to be suspended and expelled from school at more than twice the rates of other students.
  • Even when they were involved in the same types of infractions, Black students and students with disabilities were significantly more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than other subgroups.
  • Schools with discipline disparities shared some characteristics, including a higher percentage of inexperienced teachers.
The REL is providing the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) with coaching and consultation to support the implementation of local education agency (LEA) school discipline disproportionality action plans. To help operationalize and promote more equitable and supportive enactment of the state’s code of conduct in schools, MSDE seeks to broaden its school systems’ awareness of positive and trauma-informed discipline reduction and prevention strategies. The coaching will help build MSDE’s capacity to infuse their ongoing technical assistance to LEAs with new and emerging knowledge of evidence-based approaches and promising practices in place in demographically similar school systems nationwide.

REL Mid-Atlantic partnered with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to conduct analyses of MSDE's school discipline data. MSDE sought to identify trends in, and school characteristics associated with, disproportionate rates of exclusionary discipline for students based on race/ethnicity and disability status. The report’s key findings include:

  • Exclusionary discipline rates declined for all subgroups of students in Maryland during the past decade, but Black students and students with disabilities continued to be suspended and expelled from school at more than twice the rates of other students.
  • Even when they were involved in the same types of infractions, Black students and students with disabilities were significantly more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than other subgroups.
  • Schools with discipline disparities shared some characteristics, including a higher percentage of inexperienced teachers.

Infographic on understanding discipline disparities in Maryland Infographic on understanding discipline disparities in Maryland (408 KB)
Although disciplinary removals have declined in Maryland over the past 10 years, discipline disparities persist. This REL infographic discusses how to use data to identify disparities and how the REL is working with Maryland to improve disparities.

Name Title Organizational affiliation Organization location
Kimberly Buckheit Program Specialist Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Tracy Dusablon Research and Data Coordinator Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Mary Gable Assistant State Superintendent of Academic Policy Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Chandra Haislet Director of Accountability and Data Systems Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Sylvia Lawson Chief Performance Officer, Deputy State Superintendent, Office of School Effectiveness Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Lynne Muller Section Chief, Student Services and School Counseling, Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment, and Educational Policy Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Deborah Nelson Section Chief, School Safety and Climate, Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment, and Educational Policy Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Walter Sallee Director, Student Services and Strategic Planning Branch Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Dara Shaw Executive Director, Office of Research Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Christy Thompson Division Executive Director of Student, Family, and School Support Maryland State Department of Education Maryland
Interested in joining us or learning more? Contact us.

Goals

  • Help states and school districts (beginning with Maryland) understand their discipline data, refine their definition and measurement of disproportionality, and assess their progress toward addressing disparities
  • Help inform and improve the evidence-based technical support states deliver to schools and districts with disproportionately high suspension and expulsion rates
  • Develop and disseminate products and evidence-based strategies to address disparities, thereby raising public awareness about exclusionary discipline

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