Discipline

 Student talking with tutor

School discipline refers to the rules and strategies applied in school to manage student behavior and practices used to encourage self discipline.

School discipline addresses schoolwide, classroom, and individual student needs through broad prevention, targeted intervention, and development of self-discipline. Approaches to school discipline range from positive (e.g., schoolwide school climate improvements, use of restorative practices) to punitive (e.g., suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment).  How school discipline is handled has a great impact on the learning environments of schools. 

Punitive school discipline does not improve student behavior or academic achievement.

Students who have been suspended are significantly more likely to drop out of school and become involved in the juvenile justice system than their peers. Students of color, especially boys, and students with disabilities are disproportionately punished. Suspensions are often subjectively applied in such cases. For example, a significant percent of suspensions and expulsions are for trivial or minor offenses (e.g., "being disrespectful" or violating school dress code). Schools that approach school discipline punitively affect the overall school climate, creating a more negative environment for all students, including those without discipline issues.

Establishing and maintaining a positive school climate helps to encourage self-discipline and prevent discipline problems.

Establishing and maintaining a positive school and classroom climate allows a school community to proactively prevent discipline issues by increasing the strength and the quality of classroom activities. Implicit in this approach is the assumption that participating in well-managed classroom activities encourages self-discipline by teaching students about what is possible through cooperation and coordination with others. It also provides the essential conditions for caring, support, clear expectations, and guidance that nurture healthy student development and motivation.

Using positive approaches when discipline issues arise reconnects students to their peers and teachers, improving the school experience for the community.

A positive approach to discipline shifts the focus of discipline from punishment to restoration of relationships and restored understanding of and commitment to rules and order. The purpose of discipline then becomes the teaching of civility and interpersonal skills and the reconnection of alienated children. Preventive methods and multi-tiered models can provide pre-planned responses to disruption/violence, laying the foundation for positive discipline methods to be successful in creating the appropriate conditions for teachers to instruct effectively and for students to learn.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (1998). Guidance for effective discipline.Pediatrics101, 723–728.

Dishion, T. J., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). Peer contagion in interventions for children and adolescents: Moving towards an understanding of the ecology and dynamics of change. Journal of Abnormal Psychology33, 395–400.

Dishion, T. J., Dodge, K. A., & Lansford, J. E. (2006). Findings and recommendations: A blueprint to minimize deviant peer influence in youth interventions and programs. In K. A. Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth: Problems and solutions (pp. 366–394). New York: Guilford.

Fabelo, T.,  Thompson, M. D.,  Plotkin, M., Carmichael, D.,  Marchbanks, M. P.,  & Booth E. A. (2011). Breaking Schools' Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students' Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (Lexington, KY: Council of State Governments; College Station, TX: Public Policy Research Institute).

Gregory, A., Skiba, R. J., & Noguera, P. A. (2010). The achievement gap and the discipline gap: Two sides of the same coin? Educational Researcher39, 59–68.

Gottfredson, G., Gottfredson, D., Payne, A., & Gottfredson, N. (2005). School climate predictors of school disorder: Results from a national study of delinquency prevention in schools. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency42, 412–444.

Mayer, G. R. (1995). Preventing antisocial behavior in the schools. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis28, 467–478.

Mayer, G. R., & Butterworth, T. (1995). A preventive approach to school violence and vandalism: An experimental study. Personnel and Guidance Journal57(9), 436–441.

Morrison, G. M., Anthony, S., Storino, M. H., Cheng, J., Furlong, M. J., & Morrison, R. L. (2001). School expulsion as a process and an event: Before and after effects on children at-risk for school discipline. In R. Skiba & G. Noam (Eds.), New directions for youth development (pp. 45–71). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Skiba, R., & Horner, R. (2011). Race is not neutral: A National investigation of African American and Latino disproportionality in school discipline. School Psychology Review, 40, 85-107.

Skiba, R. J., Michael, R., Nardo, A., & Peterson, R. (2000). The color of discipline: Gender and racial disparities in school punishment. Bloomington: Indiana Education Policy Center.

Skiba, R. J., Peterson, R. L., & Williams, T. (1997). Office referrals and suspension: Disciplinary intervention in middle schools. Education and Treatment of Children20, 1–21.

 

Featured Resources

A picture of the cover page of The School Discipline Consensus Report

Presents a comprehensive set of consensus-based and field-driven recommendations to improve conditions for learning for all students and educators, better support students with behavioral needs, improve police-schools partnerships, and keep students out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses.

Helps guide districts in analyzing their own student-level disciplinary data to answer important questions about the use of disciplinary actions. This report identifies several considerations that should be accounted for prior to conducting any analysis of student-level disciplinary data. These include defining all data elements to be used in the analysis, establishing rules for transparency (including handling missing data), and defining the unit-of-analysis. 

Regional Educational Laboratory Program

Provides a valid, reliable, and efficient evaluation tool meant for schools to measure the extent to which school personnel are applying the core features of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS). This evaluation tool was updated in February 2017. 

Algozzine, B., Barrett, S., Eber, L., George, H., Horner, R., Lewis, T., Putnam, B., Swain-Bradway, J., McIntosh, K., & Sugai, G.

Presents policy guidance reminding States, districts, and public schools, including charter schools, of their obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the administration of special education or related aids and services. This guidance focuses specifically on the subset of students who need special education services as part of the free appropriate public education (FAPE) to which they are entitled, as well as students inappropriately identified as needing those services.

Provides tools to assess and systematically address disparities in school discipline. It describes how to carry out a descriptive analysis of disparities in school discipline and how to conduct a root cause analysis to systematically address school-based factors that contribute to disparities. 

AIR
"Making the Case for Positive School Discipline" title slide of PPT

Offers a series of webinar events focusing on school discipline issues, including current school discipline philosophies, policies, and practices, and emerging alternatives; addressing truancy and absenteeism; professional development across all stakeholders; the promise of trauma-informed practices; the role of school resource officers (SROs) in supportive school discipline; and the importance of youth, family, and community engagement.

NCSSLE/STTAC/SSDCOP

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