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Facts From NLTS2: School Behavior and Disciplinary Experiences of Youth With Disabilities

NLTS 2200603
March 2006

Summing Up

Whereas most secondary-school-age youth with disabilities are reported to behave appropriately, approximately 20 percent to 40 percent are reported to exhibit problem behaviors at school, including not controlling behavior (19 percent) and arguing with others in class (45 percent). One-third of students with disabilities have experienced disciplinary actions at school, such as suspensions, expulsions, referrals to the principal's office, or detentions, and they are more likely than their peers in the general population to have faced these types of disciplinary actions.

Students with emotional disturbances are significantly more likely to have been suspended or expelled in one school year or over their school careers than youth in all other disability categories. Youth with other health impairments also have relative high rates of receiving disciplinary actions in one school year or ever.

Detected differences in rates of disciplinary actions across demographic categories show that secondary-school-age boys are almost twice as likely as girls to have been suspended or expelled or to have received other types of disciplinary actions. Boys also are twice as likely to be described as not behaving appropriately in class. Additionally, African American students are reported by teachers to exhibit more problem behaviors at school than are White or Hispanic students with disabilities. African American students also have suspension or expulsion rates higher than those of their White or Hispanic peers. Middle-school-grade students with disabilities are more likely to be reported to misbehave in class than are those in high school, although disciplinary action rates do not differ significantly by grade level.