Why do schools struggle to reduce suspension among African American students?

Suspension refers to the temporary removal of students from their regular educational setting for violating school policies or rules. The students cannot attend a school or any school activities during the suspension. However, growing research shows that schools give more suspensions to particularly underserved groups. More importantly, suspensions have been linked to lower achievement and a greater risk of dropouts. Likewise, growing data show that certain underserved groups, such as African American students, have higher suspensions.

However, are suspensions effective? For many students, suspensions become short vacations. However, the same students repeatedly fight and have multiple suspensions. Why? Suspensions should improve students’ behaviors, but those students fight again.

At the same time, school administrators cannot give too many suspensions because it affect a school’s Dashboard. Consequently, both administrators’ and teachers’ hands are tied, and they are just waiting for something horrible to happen.

All Students Can Be Successful

It is clear that a school’s suspensions, has no long-term impact on students’ behaviors. Therefore, we have to look for alternative consequences and MTSS interventions. Unfortunately, programs like Positive However, a school’s suspensions have no long-term impact on students’ behaviors. Therefore, we have to look for alternative consequences and MTSS interventions. Unfortunately, programs like Positive Behavioral Intervention System(PBIS) makes school setting even more unsafe for many students. The program’s goal is to lower the number of suspensions and improve students’ behavior. However, many teachers complain the programs make excuses for students’ inappropriate behaviors. Students acted up because of their disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, so we have to give those students more chances.

As schools cannot find a positive and impactful consequence, they cannot correct their behaviors early. Schools need to have an immediate and impactful consequence of changing students’ behaviors before school fights occur to solve the problems. Administrators and teachers cannot rely on suspension and Saturday schools to correct students’ behaviors because they are too late and have little impact. Again, the consequence must be impactful and immediate if we hope to reduce fighting in schools and create a safer school for all students.

After more than a decade as a teacher, co-department chair, and Induction coach, I invented Safe Pouch® to empower teachers, administrators, and other staff to work together to solve tardy problems and create a safer and more positive school for all students.

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