School Climate & Safety

Suspensions Kept Fla. Low Scorers Out of Tests, Study Says

By Laura Greifner — June 20, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Some schools in Florida appear to have used disciplinary suspensions to “game the system” by keeping low-achieving students out of school during testing periods, a new study says.

“Testing, Crime, and Punishment” is posted by ScienceDirect.

The study by David N. Figlio, a professor of economics at the University of Florida in Gainesville, found that students with lower scores on previous standardized tests were more likely to be suspended than their higher-achieving counterparts, and were disciplined for longer periods, during the times of year when the high-stakes Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, was administered. The study was published in the May edition of the Journal of Public Economics.

“I don’t know the degree to which it was deliberate, but I do know it’s highly related to accountability sanctions,” Mr. Figlio said in an interview last week.

The study used student data from 1996 through 2000, the first four years that the FCAT was in use. At the time, the exam was administered in grades 4, 8, and 10 in reading and writing and in grades 5, 8, and 10 in math.

Incentives Changed

Cathy Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said preventing low-achieving students from taking tests would not help schools now. That’s because under a 2002 change to the state’s accountability system, rewards are based on improvement, not overall school performance.

Mr. Figlio studied suspensions stemming from 41,803 incidents at 504 elementary, middle, and high schools over the four years. In all of the incidents, two students were suspended, and in 60 percent of the cases, one student received a longer punishment.

“While schools always tend to assign harsher punishments to low-performing students than to high-performing students throughout the year, this gap grows substantially during the testing window,” says the study, adding that the gap appears only in the high-stakes grades.

Lower-achieving students were suspended for an average of 2.35 days, compared with 1.91 days for their higher-achieving peers.

Jay P. Greene, an education professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville who has conducted studies on accountability in Florida and the FCAT, called Mr. Figlio’s report valid, but added that the effects were relatively minimal.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2006 edition of Education Week as Suspensions Kept Fla. Low Scorers Out of Tests, Study Says

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Proven Strategies to Improve Reading Scores
In this webinar, education and reading expert Stacy Hurst will provide a look at some of the biggest issues facing curriculum coordinators, administrators, and teachers working in reading education today. You will: Learn how schools
Content provided by Reading Horizons

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center Threats of Student Violence and Misbehavior Are Rising, Many School Leaders Report
A new EdWeek Research Center survey suggests a link between the return to in-person learning and behavior problems.
3 min read
School boy (11-13) sitting on chair in corridor outside principal's office, side view
DigitalVision/Getty
School Climate & Safety What the Research Says Bullying Dropped as Students Spent Less Time in In-Person Classes During Pandemic
Researchers based their findings on an analysis of internet searches on online and school-based harassment.
5 min read
Cyber bullying concept. Paper cut Woman head silhouette with bullying messages like disgusting, OMG!!, loser, hate, ugly, and stupid.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking K-12 school shootings in 2022. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
2 min read
Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Infographic School Shootings in 2021: 4 Takeaways, in Charts
In 2021, there were 34 school shootings that hurt or killed people, the most since 2018. Here's what we know about school shootings this year.
Illustration of a gun and a school in the background.
iStock/Getty collage