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Education Opinion

Is It Time For “Differentiated” Discipline Policies?

By Alexander Russo — September 26, 2007 1 min read

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the release and interpretation of this year’s NAEP scores (yawn) is a fascinating and powerful story in the Chicago Tribune about what happens when researchers analyze another kind of performance -- suspension rates -- by race and poverty groups.

The fact that black kids --especially boys -- are disproportionately affected is vivid but not surprising. (Even though the suspension rates are double and even triple what they should be.) The fact that black middle class kids are suspended at higher rates, too, is a little more eye-opening. (Black students are no more likely to misbehave than other students from the same SES background.) And the reactions of schools with these different outcomes is perhaps the most interesting of all. (Many defend the differences because they are applying a uniform discipline standard.)

Are discipline codes being applied uniformly in schools? Does it make sense to use them if their real-world results are so skewed? What about some “differentiated” discipline to go along with all the adjustments and tailoring that is being done on the instructional side? We know that kids don’t all benefit from uniform instruction. Check it out here.

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