Thesis

An examination of suspensions at one middle school

The purpose of this research project is to gain insight into student misbehavior in school as it relates to discipline policies through an examination and analysis of four years of existing school suspension data at one middle school serving grades six, seven, and eight. Written and computerized suspension records were examined and analyzed for trends. Data examined included the following: gender, grade level, grade point average, class rank, total number of referrals to office, location of incident, month incident occurred, number of days of suspension from incident, and incident description code. The data were analyzed by year and grade level to determine trends. After initial analysis, data were then reorganized into four categories: 1) Single Offenders --students who received only one suspension. 2) Multiple Offenders--students who received more than one suspension, but averaged no more than one suspension per year. 3) Serious Offenders --students who averaged more than one suspension per year. 4) Not included --students who attended less than two years. These categories were then analyzed to look for trends in the same areas mentioned above. It was found there are two distinct groups of students who receive suspensions: those who receive one or two, and those who are chronic offenders. While students in the first group have varied profiles, students receiving multiple suspensions are usually male, have a very low grade point average, are sent to the office for discipline often, and are most often disruptive or defiant. Recommendations based on findings include: 1) reviewing the school's disciplinary data, 2) focusing on high academic success for all students, 3) building relationships between and among students and staff, 4) teaching coping skills and strategies as part of the regular curriculum, 5) implementing a school-wide conflict management program, 6) tailoring consequences for misbehavior to the student with behavior modification as the goal, and 7) reserving suspending a student from school for cases where no other reasonable alternative is available.

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