Limited learning: the effects of student suspensions and expulsions on middle school academic achievement
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Discipline has been a part of schools since schools were first developed. Consequences, including exclusionary discipline, are necessary to maintain an effective learning environment. In Texas, administrators can assign one of four exclusionary discipline practices for misbehavior. However, researchers argue that the assignment of exclusionary discipline consequences has failed to modify misbehavior, and that these practices have increased misconduct as the child disengaged from school, became frustrated, and further misbehaved. Students missed valuable instruction due to the exclusionary discipline consequences. This practice raised the question of how well these students performed on high-stakes testing. Thus, the problem investigated in this study was the effects of exclusionary discipline practices on middle school student academic achievement as measured by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). This study used descriptive research and considered eight research questions to examine the hypothesized relationship between exclusionary discipline practices and the academic achievement of middle school students. The study relied on archived TAKS performance and exclusionary discipline data from the Texas Education Agency from the 2010-2011 school year. The study used ANOVA and t-tests to determine statistical significance of the hypothesized relationship(s) at the p < .05. Results found that participants that experienced any exclusionary discipline scored lower than the state average in all grades in both reading and mathematics. The largest mean difference occurred in eighth grade mathematics where participants that experienced any exclusionary discipline scored an average of two points above the minimum standard. Participants that experienced any exclusionary discipline and were of low socioeconomic status also scored lower than the state average in all grades in both reading and mathematics. Implications included that findings from this study could increase awareness among administrators of the discipline gap created in part by the effects exclusionary discipline has on the academic achievement of middle school students. Recommendations for future research included: (a) moderating effects of gender; SES status, and special education status; (b) studying successful ISS programs; and (c) examining the informed level of administrators with regards to effects of disciplinary exclusion practices on academic achievement.