Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Collateral Consequences of Exclusionary Punishment in Public Schools

An influential literature in criminology has identified indirect “collateral consequences” of  mass imprisonment. This study extends this criminological perspective to the context of the U.S.  education system, conceptualizing exclusionary discipline practices (i.e., out-of-school  suspension) as a manifestation of intensified social control in schools. 

Similar to patterns  of family and community decline associated with mass incarceration,  exclusionary discipline policies have indirect adverse effects on non-suspended students in  punitive schools. Using a large hierarchical and longitudinal dataset consisting of student  and school records, the researchers examined the effect of suspension on reading and math achievement.  

The findings suggest that higher levels of exclusionary discipline within schools over  time generate collateral damage, negatively affecting the academic achievement of non- suspended students in punitive contexts. This effect is strongest in schools with high levels  of exclusionary discipline and schools with low levels of violence, although the adverse  effect of exclusionary discipline is evident in even the most disorganized and hostile school  environments. 

These results lmake a strong argument against excessively punitive school policies  and suggest the need for alternative means of establishing a disciplined environment through social integration.

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