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Selected correlates of suspension of students in a regional secondary school in southeastern New England

Teri E Bruce, Johnson & Wales University


Educators are concerned about the loss of instructional time resulting from student suspension. The right to obtain a free appropriate public education must be balanced with the myriad of discipline and school safety issues. The loss of instructional time due to disciplinary sanctions negatively impacts student achievement, possibly resulting in life-long detriment (Christle, Nelson, & Jolivette, 2004). Data analysis of discrepancies in suspension rates combined with administrator interviews has the potential to assist school officials in addressing student achievement relative to suspension. ^ The purpose of this research is to understand the factors that influence disproportionate suspension rates based upon the criteria of gender, race/ethnicity, Special Education eligibility, and mobility with the intent of increasing diploma attainment rates for students in a regional secondary school in southeastern New England. The research includes an analysis of student suspension data and administrator interviews for the purpose of identifying the antecedents to suspension.^ The study utilized a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design in which qualitative data served to further explain quantitative data (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2006). A longitudinal sample was drawn from a regional secondary school in southeastern New England. Educational records from this sample were students who attended school during the 2004/2005 school year through the 2008/2009 school year (N = 7,073). This provided the basis for the quantitative analysis, from which a random sample was selected by SPSS™, creating an actual sample size of N = 1,043. Qualitative data was thematically analyzed and used to corroborate the quantitative findings.^ Research findings support the hypotheses that gender, race/ethnicity, Special Education eligibility, and mobility indicators are statistically significant (p < .05) with regards to student suspension. This research indicates that suspension negatively impacts student achievement, as measured by grade point average. The interaction effect of suspension and being eligible for Special Education with respect to GPA is significant (p = .05). Maintaining “education” during the suspension process emerged as a key thematic concern. Recommendations include an annual review of disciplinary policies to adjust for changes in legislation and to monitor for internal consistency. School personnel should monitor, review and discuss statistical information regarding student discipline regularly. Lastly, specific expectations for faculty and staff must be developed in reference to providing academic instruction to suspended students. ^

Subject Area

Education, Leadership|Education, School Administration|Education, Administration|Education, Secondary

Recommended Citation

Teri E Bruce, "Selected correlates of suspension of students in a regional secondary school in southeastern New England" (January 1, 2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3402112.