Discipline Problems Linked To Low Scores, Study Says

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School discipline problems have a clear, negative impact on academic achievement, and traditional ways of keeping order in the classroom seem to work best, a report released last week says.

In what they describe as the first study of its kind, researchers at the Educational Testing Service found that students with discipline problems have lower test scores.

For More Information:

Copies of "Order in the Classroom," are available for $10.50 each from the Policy Information Center, Mailstop 04-R, Educational Testing Service,Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001. It is also available on the World Wide Web at www.ets.or/research/pic.

The researchers analyzed a database of 16,000 students nationwide who were surveyed between 1988 and 1994. They reviewed the discipline records and test scores of the students as they progressed from 8th to 12th grade.

They found that students who had committed minor or more serious offenses scored 10 percent lower on achievement tests in mathematics, reading, social science, and science than students who didn't have such discipline problems. Serious offenses included fighting or physically abusing a teacher; minor infractions included cutting class or being late. Students with drug and alcohol problems scored 10 percent lower on math and science tests.

The report says that a clearly defined discipline code with consistently administered consequences, including suspension and expulsion, is the most successful way to avoid discipline problems. Relatively new approaches such as anti-gang policies and school uniforms didn't work on their own to foster order in the classroom, said Harold Wenglinsky, an associate research scientist at the ETS and an author of the report, "Order in the Classroom."

The American Federation of Teachers, which has made school discipline one of its major emphases, praised the report last week.

"Just sticking uniforms on kids doesn't solve the problem," said Donna Fowler, a spokeswoman for the union. "But when you institute a range of punishments and make them stick, kids respond."


Vol. 18, Issue 8, Page 6

Published in Print: October 21, 1998, as Discipline Problems Linked To Low Scores, Study Says
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