Suspended Students Lose Millions of Days of Instruction While Out Of School

The Washington Post

Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year, according to research released Monday.

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles compared detailed data for every U.S. school district, presenting a mixed picture of discipline at a time of increased focus on the issue nationally.

They identified school systems in Missouri, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania that they said showed “alarming” suspension rates of 20 percent or higher for elementary school children. But they also pointed to 28 school systems in 17 states that had marked declines in suspension rates from 2009-2010 to 2011-2012, the most recent national data available. They found more than half of the country’s school districts had relatively low rates of out-of-school punishment.

“There are some large districts that have made some dramatic reductions in their suspensions and reduced the racial gap as well,” said researcher Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, which is part of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. The group’s report is titled, “Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?”

Even with some notable improvements, national suspension rates have not changed in a meaningful way and racial gaps persist, Losen said. Across all grades, 16 percent of black students were suspended in

2011-2012, compared with 7 percent of Hispanic students and 5 percent of white students...

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