The Center for Community Alternatives has released "Education Suspended: The Use of High School Disciplinary Records in College Admissions" written by Marsha Weissman, Ph.D., Executive Director and Emily NaPier, M.A., Senior Associate of Research and Public Affairs.
The use of harsh discipline in elementary and high schools – suspensions and expulsions – has skyrocketed since the mid-1990s, and there is now growing awareness about the harmful effects of such practices. Largely neglected in the conversation, however, has been the impact on college admissions. This report highlights findings from CCA's national surveys of college admissions officials and high school guidance counselors.
The study found that the collection and disclosure of high school disciplinary information in the college admissions process is widespread, despite the absence of formal, written policies and training around such practices for either college or high school personnel. This finding, coupled with the significant disparities in the ways that discipline is meted out in schools, leads the reseaarchers to conclude that the use of such information in college admissions is arbitrary and likely to create barriers to higher education for students of color and students with disabilities.
The collection of applicants’ high school disciplinary information by colleges and universities is widespread, and that information is used to inform admissions decisions despite the absence of formal, written policies and training around such practices.
About three-quarters (73 percent) of colleges and universities collect high school disciplinary
information, and 89 percent of those use the information in admissions decision making.
Only one-quarter (25 percent) of colleges that collect disciplinary information have formal,
written policies to guide their use of it, and only 30 percent of schools have trained their
admissions staff to interpret disciplinary violation findings.
High schools commonly disclose disciplinary information about their students to colleges and universities, although most do not have formal, written policies about disclosure and leave those decisions in the hands of individual guidance counselors.
Fifty percent of high schools disclose disciplinary information about their students to colleges in
at least some cases.
Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of high schools do not maintain formal, written policies regarding
disclosure of student disciplinary records to colleges.
At 41 percent of the high schools that disclose disciplinary information, the guidance counselor
is the only person to review the information prior to sending it to colleges.
Those students who have a history of disciplinary violations and are admitted to college frequently face requirements and restrictions not imposed on other students.
About one-third (33 percent) of colleges sometimes require special supervision of students with
prior disciplinary violations, often through the office of the Dean of Students or the office of
Student Affairs, or a probationary period may be imposed.
Almost half (45 percent) of colleges place housing restrictions on students with prior disciplinary
violations, with more than one-third (34 percent) prohibiting the student from residing in campus
housing, depending on the nature of the disciplinary violations.