State education board urges new look at school discipline in light of new federal guidance on the subject

Students of color, special education and low-income kids suspended and expelled at higher rates

Tacoma News TribuneApril 1, 2014 

The Washington State Board of Education adopted  a discipline resolution at its recent meeting aimed at improving school discipline practices in Washington.

The board pledged to collaborate with districts and communities to promote best practices.

"We know that discipline practices affect students' access to education and, ultimately, their success," board chair Kristina Mayer said in a news release. "The data on student discipline indicates that certain student groups are being disciplined and excluded from the classroom at higher rates than other groups of students. We are concerned about the potential contribution of this disparity in discipline rates to the opportunity gap.'"

Being removed from the classroom through in-school suspension, out of-school suspension, expulsion, or other discipline practices has been found to negatively impact a student's academic success.

Schools in Washington state disciplined more than 59,000 students in the 2012-13 school year. In Washington state, as in many states, students of color, low-income students, and special education students are suspended and expelled at higher rates.

In January, the U.S. Department of Education and Justice Department issued school discipline guidance ,that draws on emerging research and best practices to help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and discipline policies, with the goal of reducing disproportionality in discipline practices.

The state board is encouraging school districts to collect and examine local discipline data and policies to look for concerning patterns in discipline practices and for policies that may benefit from revision in light of the new federal guidance.


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