CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Discipline in School Contexts

CPRE received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an in-depth study of suspension practices in Philadelphia K-8 schools. High student suspension rates have been identified as a pressing problem nationally, and particularly in challenged urban districts (U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 2014). As one step toward addressing this problem, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) revised its Code of Student Conduct in 2012-2013 in an effort to reduce out-of-school suspensions by narrowing the list of suspendable offenses (SRC, 2013). However, school-level understanding of the revisions to the Code is uneven, and the extent to which schools currently enact it is also unknown. A recent SDP report revealed that students in the district are still being suspended for minor infractions and that elementary and middle school students are suspended at higher rates than high school students (Engelman & Wolford, 2014).

CPRE will study disciplinary practices in Philadelphia K-8 schools to better understand how and why elementary and middle-school students are suspended, what factors may impede or facilitate changes in schools’ reliance on out-of-school suspension, and what promising practices and/or contextual factors are related to schools’ use of suspension. The goal of the project is to contribute new insights on the challenges urban schools face in working to reduce suspensions, and to provide the SDP with concrete information that can shape its future efforts to reduce out-of-school suspension.  

This study will be completed in collaboration with the SDP and the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC), a project of Research for Action. Principal Investigator Abigail Gray, Ph.D., is a former Philadelphia teacher and is a Philadelphia public school parent.  Co-Principal Investigator Philip Sirinides, Ph.D., is also a former Philadelphia teacher.

Start date: 
January 2016
End date: 
June 2017