Research continues to show significant racial differences in school suspensions and expulsions. In general, white students tend to receive disciplinary office referrals for behavior that can be observed more objectively—e.g., smoking, vandalizing, leaving class without permission, making obscene comments—while in comparison Black students were more likely to receive disciplinary office referrals for behaviors that can be interpreted more subjectively (e.g., disrespecting, threating, making excessive noise).
Now, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has published an online data portal where students, families, and community leaders can see the number and breakdown of disciplinary actions in Indiana schools. You can access this information by going to https://inview.doe.in.gov/, typing in a school, and clicking on the “Environment” tab. The data is available for the 2017-18 school year broken down by school, school corporation, and state numbers.
The statistics at the state level are as follows:
- Overall, 4.4% of Indiana students were suspended in-school across the state of Indiana.
- Among Indiana students, Black/African-American children were more than twice as likely to receive in-school suspension compared to their white peers (8.2% compared to 3.4%).
- In-school suspension rates are highest among Black students (8.2%), multiracial students (5.9%), Native American students (4.9%), and Hispanic students (4.7%) — and lowest among Asian (1.7%), white (3.4%), and Hawaiian or Pacific Islander children (3.5%).
- Students with disabilities (6.5%) and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (6.2%) received suspensions at higher rates than all other races/ethnicities except for Black.
- Black (8.2%), multiracial (5.9%), and Hispanic (4.7%) were the three highest percentages of students. Asian (1.7%), white (3.4%), and Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (3.5%) were the three lowest percentages.
- Overall, 5.7% of Indiana students were suspended out-of-school across the state of Indiana.
- Among Indiana students, Black/African-American children were nearly four times as likely to receive out-of-school suspension compared to their white peers (15.4% as compared with 3.8%).
- The rate of Black/African-American students (15.4%) suspended out-of-school was nearly twice that of the next largest race/ethnicity (multiracial students, 7.9%).
- Overall, 0.3% of all Indiana students received an expulsion.
- Black/African-American students, along with Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students, received more expulsions than any other race/ethnicity at 0.4%.
- Asian students received the fewest expulsions at 0.1%.
- Among all expulsions, 0.4% of students were from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Recent research from the American Psychological Association suggests that many widely-used school disciplinary techniques are counterproductive and actually negatively impact student achievement, increase students’ risk of dropping out, and increase the likelihood that students disciplined in schools would become involved with the criminal justice system. When school disciplinary systems can be updated to include equity-focused interventions, as IDOE is working to do, schools can reduce the discipline gap, lessen the negative impacts of discipline, keep students in school, and improve the overall school climate.
Our State Legislature, recognizing the issue of disproportionality in school discipline, passed House Enrolled Act 1421 (HEA 1421), which requires IDOE to provide schools with training and information on evidence-based models for improving school behavior and discipline. The law’s overarching goal is to ensure that all students across our state have access to a “safe, respectful, culturally- and trauma-responsive learning environment.” Through these efforts, school districts will have quick access to the latest available data and receive the information and resources needed to review and update their disciplinary practices.
Now that the school year is in full swing, families should examine both the discipline numbers for their schools and the code of conduct. Child Trends has five questions they recommend asking your school about disciplinary practices, including:
- What does my school do to prevent misbehavior?
- What behaviors place my child at risk of removal from class or school?
- How and when does my school involve police?
- Does my school use corporal punishment or seclusion and restraint?
- What is restorative justice and is it used in my school?
We all want schools where every student and staff member are safe and focused on learning. It is promising that our elected officials and IDOE are acting to reduce the disproportionate rates by which Black and Hispanic students, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students are disciplined. With the data now easily available, we can all step up to understand the numbers and help ensure the next steps are more constructive ones. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
For the thousands of Hoosier children in foster care, educational success is essential to reach their full potential. But research tells us that our foster youth face educational disparities from early education to postsecondary.
We can all help Indiana’s foster students thrive by working together, addressing systemic issues and providing equitable opportunities.
Our latest spotlight, developed in partnership with Foster Success, aims to support you in making a difference in the experiences and outcomes of our foster youth.
Read the spotlight to get the latest insights on this growing population of students.
Read the spotlight!
By Tami Silverman, President & CEO, Indiana Youth Institute
Back to school means back to sports for many Hoosier students. Playing sports is one of the best ways for students to stay active and help them maintain a healthier weight. Organized youth sports provide a wide range of benefits, many beyond physical fitness, and yet it is important to understand the pros, cons and realities of youth sports.
An ESPN study reports that 30% of girls and 37% of boys play on high school teams. While overall levels of school sports participation have remained fairly constant, more girls have been playing sports in recent years, according to Child Trends.
Students living in suburban areas are the most likely to be involved in sports followed by students living in rural areas. Hispanic students are less likely than black or non-Hispanic white students to participate in school athletics. Students attending the poorest schools, often in urban areas, are the least likely to play school sports. A growing number of these schools are cutting funding for sports, leaving their students without access to the many benefits associated with school sports.
In addition to the health benefits of participating in school sports, there are also clear academic benefits. In most cases, student athletes have higher grade point averages, higher standardized test scores, better attendance, lower dropout rates, and a better chance of going to college than students who do not participate. The skills learned through many sports, such as memorization, repetition, and group-learning, are also helpful in classroom learning. And skills such as leadership, teamwork and effective communication are valuable not only on the field and in the classroom, they are also highly attractive to future employers.
Playing sports can also generate social and emotional benefits for our kids. Sports participation can increase self-esteem and self-confidence. Regular exercise releases many beneficial chemicals in the brain, and student athletes often report reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. The sense of belonging and community associated with being part of a team is also a plus. Sportsmanship, often thought of as the ability to cheer on others and acknowledge the accomplishments of your teammates and opponents, is an invaluable life skill. Student athletes are challenged to learn self-discipline and how to control emotions associated with big wins and losses. And simply having fun is a great reason to play sports.
At the same time, playing school sports is not right for every student. Family members need to understand the potential risks associated with sports participation. Too often parents, coaches, teams, and the students themselves, push too hard for wins, creating unhealthy performance pressure. If a student already has a packed schedule, perhaps with tough classes and part-time work, adding sports can increase rather than alleviate the child’s stress.
A good number of the cons associated with youth sports are related to the behaviors of the parents and family members. Experts suggest avoiding these three big pitfalls. Stop connecting your child’s performance with your ability to coach or parent them. Stop using the sports sidelines as your social circle or a place to recapture your glory days. And stop thinking that the goal of playing school sports is to get a college athletic scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about two-percent of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships to compete in college. Sports are intended to be enjoyable, with students citing “I wasn’t having fun” as the top reason both males and females quit playing sports. If it stops being fun, or if the cons begin to outweigh the pros for your child, it is time to reevaluate.
Sports can be an outstanding way for students to remain active, build self-esteem, and have a great time. The attitudes, mindsets, and skills taught through sports translate into positive adult behaviors. Yet far too many well-intentioned adults fail to support their child’s decisions when it comes to sports. It is up to us, as caring adults, to ensure we distinguish between the goals of playing sports and score of the game.
Our kids are going back to school and many of us are thinking about backpacks, school supplies and physicals. With bus schedules, class schedules and afterschool activities, our kids can easily get stressed about the beginning of a new school year. For some children, especially teens, this stress and anxiety exists at a dangerous level.
In Indiana suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 and the 4th leading cause of death for youth ages 5-14. Experts and teens list several reasons for the increase, including insufficient mental health screening, poor access to mental health services and resistance to seeking care. Suicide ideation and attempt rates are also found to be higher during the school year than in the summer.
Sadly, Hoosier youth are significantly more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their peers nationally, and Indiana faces significant disparities in youth suicide among vulnerable groups.
- 1 in 5 Indiana high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. The percentage of students who seriously considered suicide increased from 18.0% in 2005 to 19.8% in 2015.
- Indiana ranks 2nd out of 34 states in the percentage of students who made a suicide plan and ranks 3rd out of 37 states in the percentage of students who seriously considered attempting suicide.
- Among our neighboring states, Indiana has the highest percentage of students who seriously considered attempting suicide and the highest percentage of students who made a suicide plan.
For more data on Youth Suicide in Indiana, read IYI’s Data Brief.
Based on these pressing needs, the Indiana General Assembly has passed youth suicide prevention legislation in the past two sessions. Effective June 30, 2018, all teachers and educators for students in grades 5-12 are required to participate in at least two hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training every three years.
For details about the required training, school responses and effective interventions, go to the Indiana Department of Education’s website.