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Behavior

Office Referrals at Lacy Elementary School Reflect Change in Discipline Approach

Tanesha Thomas

American College of Education

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CI5033-Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments

March 3, 2019

Dr. Dawn Hickman

Introduction

The purpose of this module application is to analyze how the office referrals at Lacy Elementary School over a three-year period reflect upon discipline practices can help school climate or leadership teams identify racial/ethnic disproportionality and gender in school over a period of three years. This module application consist of three parts.

Part 1 will be an overall analysis of the referrals presented over the three years based on race and gender the types of disciplinary infractions, disciplinary responses and trends. Part 2 will consist of a research to show the comparison of the hypothesis to the findings in research on the EBSCO databases about the top disciplinary issues middle schools. While part three will consist of a comprehensive professional development session to address the identified disciplinary issue.

Part One

Analysis Data Table 1

Lacy Elementary data summary of office referrals for disciplinary incidents shows a total of 10 categories of infractions including: bullying, disorderly conduct, explosives, insubordination, knife, staff assault, student assault, tobacco, vandalism and other. These disciplinary referrals for each category are then sub-divided based on sex and racial/ethnic group for a period of three academic years ranging from 2004-2007. Ethnic categories are black female, black male, Hispanic female, Hispanic male, white female, and white male. It is important to note that the ethnic make-up of the school: approximately 46% black, with Hispanic and White being shared almost evenly for the other percent.

The incidents with the lowest referrals of only one included: bullying, explosives and tobacco which were offences carried out by a black male in 2005-2006 for the bullying and 2006-2007 for both the explosives and the tobacco. With the exception of Hispanic female disorderly conduct was committed by all other students with the numbers increasing 75% in 2006/2007 from the previous year. Insubordination has the highest number of referrals with all ethnic/ race being a participant. From the data it can be concluded that this infraction is the most common among black males with an increasing number each academic year. It is also noted that it is also a decreasing trend for the period of three years for the white males and females and is still a concern for black females with the overall second highest percentages for the last two years. Student and staff assault increase for the last three years with all other race/ethnic group being involve with an exception of Hispanic females. There was five incidents of knife for the last two years which involve Black males. Vandalism was down and had one offence by a white male in 2004/2005. It the increased in the last year to 5with only black and Hispanic males getting a referral. However, the number decreased from four to one in the last year. The category of other had 12 referrals over the three years with year 2006/2007 with black males and females having the only referrals of that year. The previous year had one white male and 2004/2005 had two black males.

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Major Trends and Patterns

The three major trends I noticed from the data of the Lacy Elementary referrals was student and staff assault which was an increasing trend, the Hispanic females maintained a consistent zero for assault over the three years in both categories. However, it was higher in black males, black females and white females. Another was the trend of insubordination decreasing gradually over the three years. This would indicate the implementation of PBSS. However, even though it was on the decrease it still had the highest percentage especially in black males. The lowest number was in Hispanic females which could mean that the PBSS and RTI has been very effective on that group of students and the large number of the school population are black which makes the probability of higher numbers greater. This decrease in insubordination could be because of incentives given for positive behavior and increased teacher management skills.

Analysis Data Table 2

The disciplinary action table categories Lacy Elementary School included alternative learning classroom, corporal punishment, and expulsion for weapons, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and other. The data use was collected over the same three year period from 2004-2007 and sub-divided by the ethnicity/race of student referred and sex. Alternative leaning classroom was only done for 2004-2005 for 7 black students both male and female. Two white males were expelled, one in 2004-2005 and the other 2006-2007 for weapons. Corporal punishment which decreased from 89 to 63 then to 33 was given to all students except for Hispanic females for the last two years. There was over 100 more out school suspension than in school suspension over the period. Out school suspension excluded Hispanic females, with black males having a significantly high percentage and white males and black females with the second and third highest respectively. Even though the percentages were lower in school suspension still affected black males and black females with Hispanic females and white females having a zero two years consecutively.

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Major Trends and Patterns

The three major trends that I noticed in disciplinary action included Alternative learning classroom went down to zero and this action was only used for black males and females. While corporal punishment decreased, out of school suspension drastically increased over the three years. For the entire three years the only disciplinary action taken against a Hispanic female was corporal punishment in 2004-2005 and in school suspension in 2006-2007. For every other disciplinary action there percentage remained at zero.

Hypothesis

There is a disproportionate rate of suspension among black students at the Lacy Elementary. (Table 2 In-school suspension and out school suspension). Determining whether racial disproportionality exists in school discipline practices requires comparing one racial group to a comparison group. Disproportionate rates of suspension among racial/ethnic student groups are a local, state, and national concern (Gregory & Weinstein, 2008; Kaufman et al., 2010; Skiba, Michael, Nardo, & Peterson, 2002; Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, & Bachman, 2008).

Part 2: The Research

This research is consistent with my hypothesis that a disproportionate rate of suspension among black students at the Lacy Elementary are being suspended. Based on a research done in the state of Florida in 1996-1997 the findings proved that disobedience/insubordination, disruptive behavior and fighting were the three most common infractions committed by students and resulted in suspensions at all grade levels. (Mendez & Knoff, 2003). Unfortunately minority groups continue to be over-represented when rates of suspension are compared. In 1997 black students were suspended 2.3 times in the United States, 3.7 more times in San Francisco and 3.2 more times in Denver more often than white students during the 1996-1997 school year.

The research that was completed suggests that students of African American ethnicity were more likely to get a “disciplinary referrals due to subjective offenses like defiance, insubordination, and disobedience” (Van Dyke, 2015). Based on the research done it was also concluded that Black students are more likely to be disciplined for minor offences, and with a disproportionately higher levels of punishment or intensive intervention.

The three common infractions that were listed in the research eg, fighting is able to be observed visually and is considered to be more objective the other two acts insubordination and disruptive are acts that can are considered subjective. It is left up to the opinion of the adult who completes the referral. This could be one of the reasons why there infractions are such common referral offences. It was noticed that this was also very common in the Lacy Elementary Data table. The use of incentives/PBSS could help to reduce the number of suspensions. Based on the data it appears that suspensions are done too often and some of the offences could be handled with a less intensive disciplinary action that could help keep the students in school. Suspensions removes a child from the normal educational environment and being out of the normal school setting puts them at a disadvantage.

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Part 3: Professional Development

Education is a continuous process and so effective professional development enables educators to develop the knowledge and skills they need to address students’ challenges. ..Professional development is can only be effective if it causes you to make an improvement of something you have been doing or synergize with other to get a better way.

By the end of the professional development teachers should be aware of disciplinary issues. This session will be use to highlight issues of discipline and create a action plan to combat them. The aim is to try and find alternative ways to deal with insubordination and disruptive behavior in the school without removing the student from a normal classroom setting. Teachers will view and analyze the data for the referral and the disciplinary actions for the previous school years and compare the trend.

Based it will trends they will realize that most of the referrals are Insubordination and they will also recognize the ethnic disproportionate trend as it relates to black students being sent to the office and being suspended. I would ask teachers to work in groups giving each group 15 samples of referrals of insubordination including a 5 that did result in suspension from the past year without the names being visible, (teacher and student). This is so everyone can understand what could be perceived as insubordination and which ones resulted in the student being suspended. There will then be a presentation on positive behavior, incentives and classroom management skills. The focus will be on professional development that encourages classroom management skills, who struggle to maintain a positive classroom environment while also encouraging strong academic achievement (Oliver & Reschley, 2007).

Conclusion

In conclusion students at the Lacy Elementary School representing the type of data that can be found across many states and school districts. Behavior that can disrupt/prevent a teacher from completing and disrupting instructional time should not be tolerated. However, there has to be a better way to deal with students who are being excluded from school for this kind of subjective behavior. It is very imperative that students are kept in the classroom setting and so less invasive measures should be put in place to deal with these types of infractions. The PBSS system would be a good place to start with trying to promote positive and safe classroom environment.

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