Saturday, August 3, 2019

Final Report: Understanding Racial Inequity in School Discipline Across the Richmond Region

As described in this initial post, I was on the research team of a study of disparate disciplinary practices in Richmond, Virginia, area K-12 public schools being conducted by MERC (Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium ) at my graduate school institution, Virginia Commonwealth University.

I participated in this podcast on the topic and was a third author on this policy brief, entitled, Why do racial disparities in school discipline exist? The role of policies, processes, people, and places. In May 2018, we published another policy brief, which I was first author on, entitled, A Review of Disciplinary Interventions in K12 Public Education.

Well, at long last the final report is out, Understanding Racial Inequity in School Discipline Across the Richmond Region. It is long but well worth the read--very well done. Here is the abstract:
This report comes from the MERC Achieving Racial Equity in School Disciplinary Policies and Practices study. Launched in the spring of 2015, the purpose of this mixed- method study was to understand the factors related to disproportionate school discipline outcomes in MERC division schools. The study had two phases. Phase one (quantitative) used primary and secondary data to explore racial disparities in school discipline in the MERC region as well as discipline programs schools use to address them. Phase two (qualitative) explored the implementation of discipline programs in three MERC region schools, as well as educator and student perceptions of school discipline and racial disproportionality. This report shares findings from both phases of our study and offers numerous implications and recommendations for research, policy, and practice.
I encourage you to read the whole thing. In the meantime Justin Mattingly of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has published this good synopsis of it:

Schools in the Richmond region suspend black students at four times the rate of white students, a gap that exceeds the national average. 
One in five black students in the region received an out-of-school suspension during the 2015-16 school year, according to a new study, compared to 5% of white students. Across the country, it's closer to 15% and 5%, according to federal data. 
The finding is part of a new study from the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, the local research arm of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education. The study, conducted over the past four years, analyzed data from seven area school districts and looked at the racial disparities in school discipline. 
What researchers found didn’t surprise them -- inequities in school discipline are common across the state and country -- but their analysis says the problem is slightly worse here; the effort also explored alternative discipline programs and considered how school districts can eliminate the gap.

I'm only the sixth of nine authors but I was so glad to be a part of it. I hope I can do my part now and in the future to help change these disparities and their root causes.

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