At the USD116 Board of Education Study Session on April 3, 2018, the Board discussed disciplinary data trends that must be addressed immediately. As a district, we are committed to Restorative Practices and Racial Equity. Most of our professional development focus for the past two years has been in these areas. We have seen very positive gains related to the overall number of days students are suspended out of school, and the number of students who miss instructional time due to punitive disciplinary consequences. We know from years of local and national research that out of school suspensions are not effective at changing student behavior. Even worse, students who receive out of school suspensions miss valuable instructional time, which negatively impacts academic outcomes.
The harmful effects of suspensions and expulsions on student outcomes are well researched.
- Suspended Progress: The Harms of Suspension and Expulsion
- Instead of Suspension: Alternative Strategies for Effective School Discipline
- High suspension, expulsion rates driven by ineffective school policies, not 'bad kids'
- US Government Accountability Office Data on K-12 Discipline Disparities
Figure 1: Please note that this represents number of students (unique students - not incidents) - Please note that the 2017-2018 data includes ONLY August 20, 2017 - March 2, 2018 (partial year)
Figure 2: A disparity ratio measures the relationship between the percentage of a group represented in a school population makeup and the percentage of students in that group who are represented in some other data we collect. Numbers above 1 represent over-representation of a group, while numbers until 1 represent under-representation of a group
All of the data related to referrals, suspensions, and academic progress (as measured by Ds and Fs) can be found here.
The systems we have put in place actually magnify inequitable outcomes for our Students of Color. This is not “The Urbana Way!” The system we have in place is an example of an almost perfectly inequitable system - student outcomes when it comes to exclusionary disciplinary practices are predictable by race - the exact opposite of what we are striving to achieve. This is not “The Urbana Way!”
The work we have done related to racial equity is based on the premise that there are individual, institutional, and structural barriers to racial equity. During our building and district level equity professional development, we work to address individual and relational aspects of racial basis and inequity. At the district board and administrative level, we need to examine policies, procedures, and structures which lead to disparate outcomes for our students of color.
“Achieving excellence and equity for all students is possible. It requires an honest look at beliefs, structures, practices, and a willingness to do what it takes to make change. Schools should not be daunted and must begin immediately—there are too many students who cannot wait. We can act our way to new beliefs and start to make the structural and instructional changes necessary to achieve excellence and equity. To do anything less is educational malpractice.” - Eric Witherspoon, District 202 Superintendent in Ed Week, 2011