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

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

by Vicki Nishioka, Becca Merrill and Havala Hanson

Racial equity is a high priority in Oregon, which along with many other states has enacted reforms in the past decade to improve racial equity in school discipline practices. One common approach has been to focus on reducing the use of exclusionary discipline, which removes students from classroom instruction. In 2015 the Oregon legislature limited the use of exclusionary discipline for students in grades K-5 to situations that pose a direct threat to the safety of other students and adults. The 2015 legislation built on 2013 policies that required schools to reduce the unnecessary use of exclusionary discipline and increase the use of nonexclusionary discipline. This study was conducted in response to a request from Oregon education leaders for information on the association between the 2015 state policy reform and school discipline and how the association differed by student race/ethnicity. Using data from a voluntary sample of 401 schools that served grades K-5, the study found that the numbers of office discipline referrals that resulted in exclusionary discipline and in nonexclusionary discipline increased after the 2015 policy reform relative to pre-policy trends, especially for Black students. During the post-policy years Black students experienced the largest increase in exclusionary discipline and were twice as likely as students overall to experience exclusionary discipline. For most student racial/ethnic groups the 2015 policy reform was associated with a significant shift in the post-policy years from exclusionary to nonexclusionary discipline. However, this finding did not hold for Black students, for whom office discipline referrals became more likely to result in exclusionary discipline and less likely to result in nonexclusionary discipline after the 2015 policy reform. For White students and some other racial/ethnic student groups, the 2015 policy reform was also associated with a shift from exclusionary to nonexclusionary discipline for minor, disruptive, and aggressive behavioral infractions that were not considered a threat to safety. However, the reform was associated with a shift toward exclusionary discipline for office discipline referrals issued to Black students for disruptive infractions and to Hispanic students for aggression. [For the study snapshot, see ED610683. For the appendices, see ED610684.]

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