Term Paper: Detention, Suspension, and Expulsion: Effect

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[. . .] In the first study, students who were chronically referred throughout their middle school career were identified {n = 18). In addition to establishing that each student had a problem of long duration, a measure of the density of the behavior problem was taken (Tobin, 1996) (i.e., the highest number of referrals received in a single term). Two contrasting groups were formed to develop hypotheses about which events in the first term of Grade 6 predicted continued discipline problems. The second study was a comparison of discipline patterns for violent behaviors (e.g., fighting, vandalism, harassment) and nonviolent behaviors (e.g., disruption, skipping class, insubordination) for students with serious discipline problems (n = 36) from three middle schools. The use of school discipline referral patterns is discussed as a means of checking the need for additional assessments (e.g., functional assessments of problem behaviors, social skills assessments), enhancing our understanding of students' problem behaviors, and constructing preventive interventions (Tobin, 1996). "

Experts agree that middle school is often a turning point for students who decide what path they want to travel in life. Those who are at risk often turn to more trouble as they get older.

This study identified many questions that it felt should be addressed for the future success of developing a more effective discipline program:

Do referral patterns during the first 3 months of school in Grade 6 predict students who are likely to have chronic behavior problems in middle school and who are not likely to respond favorably to typical disciplinary procedures?

What early behavioral indicators predict which students are likely to develop a pattern of chronic referrals for discipline?

Which behavioral indicators are the most useful predictors? (Tobin, 1996)"

Lamoni Middle School (pseudonym), a suburban school with an enrollment of about 500 mostly White students, is located in the U.S. Northwest. Although the overall school climate was improving, school staff wanted to provide additional individualized services for the few students who had serious discipline problems (approximately 5% to 7% of the total student enrollment) (Tobin, 1996). However, an operational definition and selection criteria were needed to identify those students who would receive this extra support (Tobin, 1996). Because staff members could not agree on which students should be included, discipline referral records were examined as a possible source for identifying students during the first term in Grade 6 who were likely to become the "most difficult" students over the next few years. Because resources were limited, accurate identification of students was important. The computerized databases of all discipline referrals for the 4 previous years and for the first two terms of the current year provided the raw data for the first pilot study (Tobin, 1996). "

The students were referred and divided by previous discipline issues in the last five years of their educational experience.

Students were given code numbers and information was collected on dates, grade levels, gender, specific behaviors for the referrals, and administrative consequence actions (Tobin, 1996). This information was tallied by student, category, term, and items of interest (Tobin, 1996). Although attendance and enrollment records were not available, general patterns could be determined in the referral records by developing a systematic way to code terms when a student did not receive a referral. The purpose of the systematic data decision rules was to permit analysis of referral patterns for students with continuing discipline problems even though students whose referrals did not continue could not be studied. The following rules were used to decide when no referrals for a student in a given term represented missing data and when a zero should be recorded as a valid measure of referrals (Tobin, 1996):

1. "If referrals occurred the preceding and following terms, it was assumed that the student was enrolled during the term that had zero referrals. That is, if a student had referrals in the fall and spring, for example, but not in winter, zero referrals were recorded for the winter term (Tobin, 1996).

2. If no referrals were recorded for 2 or more terms in a row, or during the final term of the student's eighth-grade year, it was treated as missing data because the student might have been expelled or no longer enrolled for some other reason (Tobin, 1996).

3. Exception: In any situation where the student had "positives" recorded for terms when they had no discipline referrals, the zero for discipline referrals was considered valid. (Some terms included records of reports of positive behavior along with records of discipline referrals. (Tobin, 1996))

The study concluded that students who were repeat offenders by sixth grade have a higher risk of being suspended or expelled than students who had not been in trouble before. In addition the study concluded that suspension or expulsion alone was not an effective deterrent for students who had been in trouble several times by sixth grade. The study suggested that alternative methods of discipline be developed and a method for identifying at risk students be developed for the purpose of avoiding future behaviors that would warrant suspensions and expulsions.

One national study conducted in American schools provided a foundational understanding of the discipline methods being used currently. The study used a 19 question survey and was sent around the nation to different schools. "Material was received from 41 of 50 states (return rate = 82%). However, 14 SDSE sent letters indicating that they had no standards on behavioral procedures, or that responsibility for standards had been delegated to local districts. Therefore, only standards from the remaining 27 SDSE identifying behavioral procedures (66% of respondents) were examined. Of these 27 SDSE, 13 delegated responsibility for more specific standards to districts (i.e., local districts may have had both district and state standards). SDSE from 36 states responded to both the 1989 survey and the 1994 survey (Morgan, 1997)."

The results of this study indicated that 66% of SDSE standards regulated behavioral procedures. Specific findings included the following: (Morgan, 1997) (a) Compared with 1989 standards, more 1994 standards identified behavioral procedures, including those to increase and decrease behavior; (b) current standards described greater monitoring activities (Morgan, 1997) (i.e., prior approval requirements) for use of behavioral procedures than did previous standards (Morgan, 1997); - about half of the current standards that identified behavioral procedures prohibited and/or restricted use of some of them (e.g., isolation time-out, contingent use of aversive stimuli), similar to the 1989 findings; and (d) staff training and the use of decision models for selecting behavioral procedures were described more often in the 1994 standards than in the 1989 standards (Morgan, 1997). "

While this study is important in the understanding of which schools implement standards of discipline and standards of behavior it does not address the effectiveness of specific disciplines such as suspension and expulsion (Morgan, 1997).

Another statewide study was conducted regarding the discipline of special education students. The study involved over 500 participants and while it was thorough and complete it did not focus exclusively on suspension as a discipline method which left some needed conclusions unanswered (Butera, 1998).

This literature is important in setting the stage for the need for a study about suspension and expulsion and its effectiveness. http://www.bcreek.k12.mi.us/districtservices/Transportation/TransDisciplineProc.htm






Arson (burning of or an attempt to burn)

Refer to the weapons policy in High School Student Handbook. Turn over to school principal. Notify Transportation Supervisor (TS).


Refer to Physical & Verbal Assault Policy in High School Student Handbook. Turn over to school principal & notify TS.

Disruptive Conduct

Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

Up to 10 day suspension.

Drugs & Behavior Altering Substances

5-10 day suspension. Turn over to school principal & notify TS.

10 day suspension. Turn over to school principal & notify TS.


Drugs - selling



Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

Up to 10 day suspension

False Alarms (opening emergency door, etc.)

Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

Up to 10 day suspension

Fighting, provoking a fight, threatening a student

Refer to Physical & Verbal Assault Policy in High School Student Handbook. Turn over to school principal & notify TS.

Harassment (sexual, gender, ethnic, religious, height, weight)

Written warning and/or suspension

Minimum of 3 day suspension

Bus privileges denied and/or removal from school until parent conference


Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

5-10 day suspension

Insubordination (failing to respond to or carry out reasonable requests by Bus Driver)

Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

Up to 10 day suspension

Obscenity / profanity

Up to 1 day suspension

Up to 2 day suspension

Up to 3 day suspension

Pocket pager, phones, laser pens

Surrender to Bus Driver, returned to parents.

See first offense and 3 day suspension.

Loss of item and 5 day suspension.

Smoking, possession of tobacco products… [END OF PREVIEW]

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