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California Leading the Country in Reducing Suspension Rates, Boosting Minority Student Achievement

California Leading the Country in Reducing Suspension Rates, Boosting Minority Student Achievement

A new study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project has found that California has significantly reduced suspension rates in its schools from 2011-2014, in turn increasing student achievement particularly for minority children.

California has taken an active approach to blocking a school-to-prison pipeline by seeking to stop punishing students for non-violent offenses such as “disruption of willful defiance.”

And in Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school district, schools are leading the way in using restorative justice practices over techniques like suspension and expulsion to ensure even misbehaving students receive education.

Though not reflected in the UCLA study’s report, in 2014, California banned certain forms of non-violent suspensions completely for the state’s youngest learners in kindergarten through third grade.

But even without this change being reflected, the UCLA study still found a significant reduction in suspensions from one year to the next.

"Overall, the number of suspensions dropped from 709,580 in the 2011-2012 school year to 503,101 in 2013-2014. The biggest drop in suspensions came for black students, although they are still significantly more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts. In 2011-2012, there were 33 suspensions for every 100 black students, but by 2013-2014, this number dropped to 25.6 suspensions per 100 students,” The Huffington Post said.

Though the researchers admit that more work needs to be done to prove a concrete link between reduced suspensions and higher student achievement, many are calling the work being done in California a step for “meaningful change” if it stays on this track.

Although this UCLA study is some positive news on the changes California is making to disciplinary practices, not all recent news on the subject has been so positive.

Earlier this month, The Los Angeles Times reported that teachers in LAUSD are facing a lack of training in handling unruly behavior without the option to suspend, creating out-of-control classrooms.

"Union representative for Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South L.A. Art Lopez said in a letter obtained by the Times that teachers who have high numbers of students with discipline issues “are walking a fine line between extreme stress and a emotional meltdown,’” Education World reported earlier .

The authors behind the report encourage California teachers to keep going with the reform in pursuit of an important end result.

According to Daniel Losen, the author of the study:

My take is: We agree teachers need support but it shouldn’t be either/or ... Right now, when you suspend a student, especially out of school for a minor offense, there is no research to support that. That’s just bad practice. It's not educationally sound. That needs to stop.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

11/23/2015

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