Background Information Prepared by the Education Committee for the Hearing on
Understanding the Data
The Attendance Accountability Amendment Act of 2013 required the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to issue a report including findings and recommendations to aid each educational institution in eliminating out-of-suspension and expulsions, except for those students who pose a reasonable threat of death or serious bodily harm to themselves or other or violate the Expulsion of Students Who Bring Weapons Into Public Schools Act of 1996, effective April 9, 1997 (D.C. Law 11-174; D.C. Official Code § 38-231 et seq.). In June 2014, OSSE released the report "Reducing Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions in District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools."
OSSE found that in SY12-13, there were nearly 10,000 DC students who were suspended at least once. The data revealed some other key findings:
- Male students were approximately 1.68 times more likely to be disciplined than female students.
- DC Public Schools (DCPS) students were 1.58 times more likely to be disciplined than charter school students.
- Black students were almost six times more likely to be disciplined than were White students. Latino students were more than two times more likely to be disciplined than White students.
- Students who were homeless at some point during SY12-13 were nearly 1.2 times more likely to be disciplined than those who were not homeless.
- Students from families eligible for TANF and SNAP were 1.5 times more likely to be disciplined than students not participating in these assistance programs.
- Students under the care of DC’s child welfare system, the Child and Family Services Administration, were more than two times more likely to be disciplined as non-CFSA students.
- Depending on their level of disability, most students who received special education services experienced higher rates of discipline than students not receiving special education services, ranging from 1.4 to 1.7 times more likely for students in levels 1-3.
While these statistics are concerning, they are based on incomplete data and do not actually capture the full spectrum of student discipline in the District of Columbia for SY12-13. For federal accountability, OSSE is required to report to the U.S. Department of Education in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions due to violence, weapons use or possession, drug use or possession, and alcohol use or possession. Currently, these are the only categories with regard to student discipline data that local education agencies (LEAs) report to OSSE. Therefore, the analysis OSSE included in its report does not include analysis of discipline incidents for any other reasons.
In 2012, the Council’s Committee on Education began asking DCPS and the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) to report student discipline data by campus and grade during performance oversight hearings. Both agencies were also asked to provide a narrative description of the actions that led to suspensions or expulsions.
|SY12-13 SUSPENSIONS 1-10 DAYS||SY12-13 SUSPENSIONS 10+|
During the SY12-13 in public charter schools, 25% of suspensions were due to a federal offense and 75% were due to non-federal reasons. In total, public charter schools had 81 expulsions. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the students expelled were due to a federal reason and 35% of students were expelled for a non-federal reason. The most prevalent non-federal reason for suspending students were disruptive behavior, insubordination, and fighting. The most common non-federal reason for expelling students was for disruptive behavior.
For DCPS, the majority of long-term suspensions during SY12-13 were for violent infractions (e.g., assault on a student/staff, fighting where there is the risk of serious injury, participating in a group fight, fighting where there is a serious injury and sexual harassment). There were several other infractions that led to long-term suspensions, namely frequent of thefts (both without force and using force) and possession of a weapon. The expulsion during SY12-13 was for drug possession.
The following chart reflects data submitted to the Committee for the FY13 performance oversight hearing in February 2014 and therefore is not the complete data for SY13-14.
|SY13-14 SUSPENSIONS 1-10 DAYS||SY13-14 SUSPENSIONS 10+|
At this point during SY13-14, PCSB reported that 33 students were expelled from public charter schools. Seventy-five percent 75% (25 of 33) of the students expelled were due to a federal and 25% (8 of 33) of the students expelled were due to non-federal reasons. The most prevalent non-federal reason for expelling students was for disruptive behavior (4). For suspensions, 24% (751 of 3,157) were due to federal offenses and 76% (2406 of 3,157) were due to non-federal reasons. The most prevalent non-federal categories for suspending students were disruptive behavior (1065), insubordination (478), and fighting (351). (The difference in the chart and the anecdote can be attributed to when PCSB pulled the data for their spreadsheet versus when they checked the data to write their full response to the question.)
The complete data for SY13-14 and SY14-15 to date will be provided to the Committee by the end of this week as part of the agencies performance oversight hearing responses.
Improving Data Collection
The Pre-K Student Discipline Amendment Act of 2015 seeks to improve data collection by establishing annual reporting requirements for each local education agency on suspensions and expulsions data for grades PK-12. If approved, each local education agency shall submit a report to OSSE on all suspensions and expulsions that occurred during the preceding school year disaggregated by campus, grade level, gender, and race.
Improving the District’s data collection on student discipline is valuable for the following reasons:
- Increases overall transparency and ensures data consistency;
- Helps the District and LEAs ensure that the student discipline practices and policies do not lead to disparate treatment among students; and
- Allows for better research and analysis of the true impact of student discipline practices on student achievement and educational outcomes.