Rethinking Discipline

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a new resource section on their website called Rethinking Discipline

Teachers and students deserve school environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to teaching and learning. Creating a supportive school climate—and decreasing suspensions and expulsions—requires close attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all students.

Administrators, educators, students, parents and community members that visit Rethinking Discipline can find tools, data and resources to:

  • Increase their awareness of the prevalence, impact, and legal implications of suspension and expulsion;
  • Find basic information and resources on effective alternatives; and
  • Join a national conversation on how to effectively create positive school climates.

Suspension 101

Suspension impacts everyone
  • In 2011-2012, 3.45 million students were suspended out-of-school.
    (Civil Rights Data Collection, 2011-2012)
  • Of the school districts with children participating in preschool programs, 6% reported suspending out of school at least one preschool child.
    (Civil Rights Data Collection, 2011-2012)
  • Students with disabilities and students of color are generally suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers.
    (Civil Rights Data Collection,2011-2012)
Suspensions don’t work—for schools, teachers, or students
  • Evidence does not show that discipline practices that remove students from instruction—such as suspensions and expulsions—help to improve either student behavior or school climate.
    (Skiba, Shure, Middelberg & Baker, 2011)
Suspensions have negative consequences
  • Suspensions are associated with negative student outcomes such as lower academic performance, higher rates of dropout, failures to graduate on time, decreased academic engagement, and future disciplinary exclusion.
    (Achilles, McLaughlin, Croninger,2007; Arcia, 2006; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2005; Costenbader & Markson, 1998; Lee, Cornell, Gregory, & Fan, 2011; Raffaele-Mendez, 2003; Rodney et al., 1999; Skiba & Peterson, 1999)
There are effective alternatives to suspension
  • Evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), can help improve overall school climate and safety.
    (Bradshaw, C., Koth, C.W., Thornton, L.A., & Leaf, P.J., 2009)
  • Interventions, school-wide and individual, that use proactive, preventative approaches, address the underlying cause or purpose of the behavior, and reinforce positive behaviors, have been associated with increases in academic engagement, academic achievement, and reductions in suspensions and school dropouts.
    (American Psychological Association, 2008; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2005; Crone & Hawken, 2010; Liaupsin, Umbreit, Ferro, Urso, & Upreti, 2006; Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005; Putnam, Horner, & Algozzine, 2006; Skiba & Sprague, 2008; Theriot, Craun, & Dupper, 2010)

Featured Resources

New Guidance Package Addresses the Behavioral Needs of Students with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance to Schools on Ensuring Equity and Providing Behavioral Supports to Students with Disabilities

Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs
The Department has released a significant guidance document in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.  Download the Dear Colleague Letter (PDF, 493KB)

Supporting and Responding to Behavior: Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Implementation Blueprint and Self-Assessment

OSERS Blog: Moment to Moment and Year to Year: Preventing Contemporary Problem Behavior in Schools
Effective education faces many challenges: chronic absenteeism, dropout, diversity inequities, antisocial conduct and violence, emotional and behavioral disorders, suspensions and expulsions. The authors suggest that the solution emphasize the adoption of a two-prong prevention approach that considers informed decision making, selection of evidence-based practices, and implementation of culturally relevant tiered systems of support. Read more on the OSERS Blog.


Visit Rethinking Discipline at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/index.html