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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Does the Proportion of White Students Predict Discipline Disparities? A National, School-Level Analysis of Six Racial/Ethnic Student Groups
by Triplett, Nicholas Paul, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2018, 179; 10749986
Abstract (Summary)

Racial/ethnic disparities in school discipline have existed for decades (Children’s Defense Fund, 1975), and have had a disproportionately negative effect on the educational attainment, social/emotional well being and life chances of students of color. While past research has found that school racial/ethnic balance is amongst the most powerful predictors of the student-level risk and severity of school discipline (Rocque & Paternoster, 2011; Skiba, Chung, Trachok, Baker, Sheya & Hughes, 2014; Welch & Payne, 2010), only a handful of studies have examined how school racial/ethnic balance affects discipline gaps between students of color and their White counterparts (Freeman & Steidl, 2016; Thornton & Trent, 1988). However, careful analysis of previous scholarship suggests that students of color attending schools with higher proportions of White students may be particularly vulnerable to racialized and overly punitive discipline practices (Eitle & Eitle, 2004; Welch & Payne, 2010). The primary purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between school-level racial/ethnic disparities in suspension and the proportion of White students in a school. Regression analysis was used to analyze a nationally representative sample of K-12 schools for each U.S. Census designated student groups of color: American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Two or more Races. Analysis was guided by critical race and intergroup threat theories, which explored the ways that structural racism and perceptions of intergroup threat can produce ideologies, dispositions and actions that deny historically marginalized youth the full benefit of public education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Welch & Payne, 2010). Descriptive findings demonstrated that the problem of inequitable suspension rates was perhaps more acute and widespread than previously appreciated. This study provided some of the first empirical evidence of elevated risk of suspension for Asians, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, students of two or more Races, and students of color in predominantly-White schools. Inferential analysis offered support for two important emerging findings in the school discipline literature. First, analysis indicated that elementary schools tend to have consistently larger racial/ethnic discipline gaps than middle and high schools. Secondly, multivariate analysis showed that the best predictors of school level racial/ethnic discipline gaps were different from those that have best predicted student-level incidence and severity of discipline in previous scholarship. Collectively, results contributed empirical evidence that can help identify the school contexts in which students of color appear to be at elevated risk of suspension, what kinds of reforms might produce more equitable discipline outcomes, where such reforms should be implemented, and how stakeholders can mitigate the irreparable harm caused by racialized discipline policies and practices. Directions for future research are provided, along with recommendations for policy and practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Butler, Bettie Ray
Commitee: Flowers, Claudia, Heafner, Tina, Lewis, Chance W.
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Education philosophy
Keywords: Critical race theory, Disproportionality, Integrated threat theory, Racial disparities, School discipline, Suspension
Publication Number: 10749986
ISBN: 978-0-355-82084-3
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