Data taking center stage in efforts to rethink discipline
Disciplinary incidents fell by 72% when schools used data analytics to monitor student behavior, as detailed by new research from Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance, which studied 70 public schools in Louisiana, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12
To conduct the study, schools were given Kickboard analytics software to track positive and negative behaviors of students, creating student profiles as teachers input the date on their smartphones or Chromebooks.
In the study, schools using the technology over a six-year period saw average suspension numbers drop, with the average number of suspension days given to students falling by 52% and graduation rates increasing 30 points to 85%.
At the crux of the study is the belief that if teachers can see and identify — with data — trends in a student’s behavior, they will be more equipped to address the issues earlier on. More specifically, as pointed out by EdTech, these interventions are not only helpful on a micro-level, but could help address systemic issues around discipline, and specifically race.
Despite the implementation of discipline guidelines designed to protect vulnerable student populations under the Obama administration, data published last spring by the U.S. Department of Education shows disparities remain in how students of color and students with disabilities are disciplined compared to other student populations.
Using data to identify discipline issues and ultimately reduce suspensions could be a massive step in curbing the school-to-prison pipeline.
That said, it is not enough for educators to intercept behavior issues early. Research on the school-to-prison pipeline indicates that there must also must be a shift in thinking on what discipline should look like.
Proactive discipline, a growing trend, involves relationship-building with students, developing classroom norms with student input, and making classroom expectations clear. Proactive discipline takes more relationship building than responsive discipline, so it’s a more difficult method to master. But it is also said to be more beneficial in the long run, helping to create a more conducive and stable learning environment.
Suspensions are said to hurt academic performance, but by how much is not fully known.
A study from this past summer focusing on Philadelphia found students had lower test scores the same year they were suspended. Another study published in May looked at California, finding that one suspension did not have noticeable effects on test scores, but more than one suspension could cause substantial drops.
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 Study Finds Data Analytics Help Lower Rates of Disciplinary Action in K–12