Many schools are reducing out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, but it’s not clear how discipline alternatives affect school safety, according to a study reported in Education Next.
One of the only programs supported by strong research is Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, authors write. “The approach aims to change school culture by setting clear behavioral expectations, designing a continuum of consequences for infractions, and reinforcing positive behavior.” Students say their school is safer even as suspensions are less common.
Other strategies may be effective too, but so far the evidence is “thin.”
It’s easy to reduce suspension rates by lowering behavioral expectations. Creating a safe, orderly learning environment is much, much harder.
It’s also not clear that “exclusionary discipline” (suspension and expulsion) creates a school-to-prison pipeline, the authors write. Children who frequently get in trouble at school, whether suspended or not, may be much more likely to get in trouble as adults. Chicken, egg.