New study finds connection between school failures, in-school suspensions

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In-school suspension is an act of discipline where students are temporarily removed from the classroom to be supervised by school personnel. It is a common practice used in schools all over the country, however, it has recently been discovered that this can have a negative impact on a student’s academic performance.

Jamilia Blake, children’s peer-relations expert, and her team uncover the correlation between in-school suspension and academic failure in their most recent research for the Department of Educational Psychology.  

In this study, Blake focuses on the secondary data of approximately 380,000 ninth grade students enrolled in public schools in Texas. She determines the number of in-school suspensions that resulted in failure on a standardized achievement test. 

She explains that people often believe in-school suspensions to be a less detrimental punishment to out of school suspensions, however, this is not necessarily the case. 

The effects of in-school suspensions are largely unknown as there has not been a significant amount of research on the topic, therefore, Blake aims to use this research to start the conversation over the effects of in-school suspensions on academic performance.

“In-school suspensions involve taking students out of the classroom, which causes the students to lose valuable instructional time,” Blake says. “Oftentimes people do not realize that this creates large gaps in knowledge, which translates in students’ standardized test performance.”

When students are removed from the classroom, they are not only losing valuable learning time, but they are also losing hands-on help. Blake says it is unclear what type of instructional support students receive to complete assigned work when they are placed in-school suspension rooms. 

Looking at the results from this study, Blakes explains there is a clear association between in-school suspensions and academic failure.

“Results show that a student who is given one in-school suspension is predictive of significant risk for academic failure (greater than 25 percent chance of failure) on a state-wide standardized test,” Blake says.

She also explained that the relationship between in-school suspension and risk for standardized test failure is more pronounced for students of color. 

Overall, these results ultimately question whether the disciplinary actions that are taking place in the classroom are truly effective.

“We need to look more deeply at how we are disciplining students in the classroom, and discover a new instructional, integrative and comprehensive framework that will hold students accountable, but not hurt their way of learning,” Blake says.

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