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Differentiated Discipline -- Is It Time?

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the release and interpretation of
this year's NAEP scores (yawn) is a fascinating and powerful story in
the Chicago Tribune about what happens when researchers analyze another
kind of performance -- suspension rates -- by race and poverty groups.

Two_black_boys.jpg

The fact that black kids --especially boys -- are disproportionately
affected is vivid but not surprising. (Even though the suspension rates
are double and even triple what they should be.) The fact that black
middle class kids are suspended at higher rates, too, is a little more
eye-opening. (Black students are no more likely to misbehave than other
students from the same SES background.) And the reactions of schools
with these different outcomes is perhaps the most interesting of all.
(Many defend the differences because they are applying a uniform
discipline standard.)

Are
discipline codes being applied uniformly in schools? Does it make sense
to use them if their real-world results are so skewed? What about some
"differentiated" discipline to go along with all the adjustments and
tailoring that is being done on the instructional side? We know that
kids don't all benefit from uniform instruction. National story here. Chicago story here.

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  • I don't see how you can thread the needle with differentiated discipline and not come out with something that's an injustice system. I think the "Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports" program they're trying out in Austin may be a better solution, essentially training teachers and students to interact appropriately with each other, so that students aren't punished for simple communication snafus.

    How many students are suspended in CPS for silliness? It seems like it's difficult to suspend a student even for assault, so I can't imagine that many are suspended for frivolous reasons.

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