I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Strong Disciplinary Procedures Narrow the "Achievement Gap"

 I feel our discipline procedures are out of whack.  I've discussed it over and over here on my blog, and every time I get a chance at meetings I discuss this.  It seems that some students get harsh punishments for their first offenses.....Often including out of school suspensions for some first offenses.  Other students, based upon varying circumstances but ultimately driven by political correctness--get chance after chance after chance after chance after chance, sometimes receiving as many as 39 referrals before they are finally kicked out.  It makes no sense, it's stupid.

Parents want safe learning environments for their students and environments that are conducive to learning--It's the #1 reason parents choose private schools!  And those administrators who support a skewed discipline system that attempts to placate some social justice organizations (that accuse us of institutional racism based upon discipline statistic OUTCOMES) will be the same ones in a few years asking "Why are our enrollments going down?"  "Why is Santa Rosa's school population exploding and ours is stagnant?"  Our enrollments are going down, and the "achievement gap" is getting wider, because our discipline process is uneven. . ..That's why!  So what does discipline have to do with the achievement gap and parents leaving the public schools for private/home school/charters, etc.?  Strong discipline and the narrowing of the achievement gap go hand in hand.  This research paper points to the correlation.  From the paper:

"by imposing a strict discipline code, principals can reduce the overall number of student infractions, which increases achievement both by limiting the number of offending students and by reducing the negative spillovers associated with disruptive behavior....t the threat of suspension deters students from ever committing an infraction, particularly those students who pose the greatest risk for poor
behavior. Losing classroom time as a result of suspension has a small negative impact, while exposure to disruptive behavior significantly reduces achievement"

The paper is extremely interesting.


Alice said...

Jeff, The comment about "exposure to disruptive behavior." I agree absolutely. Now, here's what often happened during the years I taught in this county. I could refer 10 different students for EXACTLY the same infraction and have 10 different results. The smallest variation was for political reasons: government restrictions on disciplining ESE students, for example. The biggest variation was race. MY experience has been that deans tend to be harsher when students are not of the same race. Other variations result from whether or not the dean knows the family, whether or not the student comes off as "respectful," whether or not the student speaks "standard English." Before you object on principle, Jeff, a reminder that I', speaking from the trenches here.

My favorite referral was always the student who was SO disruptive that getting the student out ASAP was a priority. But, wait, a minute. Stop everything, students. I have to sit here and write out this long referral first. Of course, as I'm doing that, the student is doing everything possible to disrupt the class even more. (Sort of that "I'm on death row. What difference does it make if I kill someone else?") Next, the student takes the referral and saunters out, speaking to as many classmates as possible on the way out. Okay, students back to work. 2 minutes later: Student is back! Whatever's going to happen, it's not happening now. The student has successfully managed to consume an entire class period. That student has just "won."

I notice the the phrase "exposure to disruptive behavior" is highlighted in your text, so you must think it very important. So do I. Perhaps, then, you can explain how we go out of our way to be certain that students we label "regular" are subjected to much more disruptive behavior than are students we label "honor." Also, those "regular" students will have the teachers least capable of dealing effectively with the disruption and getting the class back on track.

Can we pick up this conversation later? I've got heat pump issues!

Jeff Bergosh said...

The critical thing is, behavioral expectations are constant whether one is in gifted or AP or DE or regular classes. No excuses for bad behavior---and we should have one standard, and our rules should be applied as equally as possible-however this does not always happen.