Chicago's High Suspension Rates Driven By Schools With Concentrated Poverty
By Evie Blad
This post first appeared on the Rules for Engagement blog.
High suspension rates in Chicago schools are driven by a cluster of schools with high concentrations of "extremely disadvantaged students," a new report finds.
That means a Chicago student with the same ethnic background, family income level, and gender is less likely to be suspended in a school with low concentrations of extreme poverty than in a school with higher concentrations, says the study from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Because schools with high concentrations of disadvantaged students largely enroll students of color, their high suspension rates create disparate rates of discipline between black and Latino students and their white peers districtwide, the study says. That suggests that school systems must tackle systemic issues as well as building-level policies to ensure fair discipline practices.
From the report:
What might drive down the rates of suspension in these schools? Researchers suggest the answer is a combination of emotional and behavioral supports to help students confront the challenges associated with deep poverty, low academic achievement, and exposure to trauma and alternative discipline forms, such as restorative practices. Some of the high-poverty schools in the study have tried such approaches, but they need more support and resources to be successful given the high needs of their student population, the study says.
Researchers also combined discipline data with child welfare data and found that 30 percent of the students with a history of abuse or neglect were suspended in the 2013-14 school year. "Students with a history of abuse or neglect are concentrated in schools with high suspension rates;" the report says, "in almost all high-suspending high schools, at least 10 percent of students had a documented history of abuse or neglect."
Read the whole report here for more insights on discipline trends in Chicago schools. What conclusions do you draw from its findings?
Related reading on school suspensions: