The effects of a school wide discipline plan on suspension rates

Throughout the history of education, discipline has been a daunting and difficult task for educators. Over the years, the culture of discipline has changed dramatically. Transitioning from an abusive form of corporal punishment to a no-nonsense response, Zero Tolerance policies were adopted. As time went on, the reactive approach to discipline was implemented too harshly, and a proactive approach was chosen. In order to create quality learning environments and to promote student safety, many schools have placed a major emphasis on effectively managing and minimizing student discipline problems. In an effort to promote appropriate behaviors and reduce reactive discipline consequences, many schools have implemented programs such as School-wide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS) that are based on a Restorative Justice philosophy. The purpose of this study was to determine if a school-wide discipline plan based on Restorative Justice reduced suspensions over a 4-year period. A paired sample t-test was used to determine if there was a significant difference in suspension rates of 33 elementary students, between the academic year prior to implementation and the first, second, and third year of implementation. Through statistical analyzes, this researcher found that the first and third academic year of implementation showed higher suspension rates than the year prior to implementation. The second academic year of implementation showed similar suspension rates than the year prior to implementation. The results revealed the ineffectiveness of the school-wide discipline plan at the school selected for this study.