Longitudinal Data on Suspended/Expelled Youth

In our last Attend-Engage-Invest Blog, we encouraged you to work with school administrators to consider Alternatives to Suspension. We recently found scientific evidence from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) that you can share with key decision-makers to impress upon them the importance of finding alternatives.

We know that students who are removed from the classroom for discipline are not only missing instruction; the effects of suspension go beyond just the day or few days that a student misses.

hsls09NCES just released information showing the effects of suspension on students’ engagement in school, GPA, and high school completion (among other measures) in their High School Longitudinal Study of 2009.

To summarize these findings, NCES published a blog article, What are the Characteristics of Students Who Have Ever Been Suspended or Expelled From School?

Cumulative GPA and High School Completion Status

In their table on cumulative GPA and high school completion status (as of 2013) of students who were ninth graders in 2009, we see that almost 90% of those students who are suspended or expelled had a GPA lower than 3.0, and almost 50% of these students had a GPA between 0 to 1.99. With regard to graduation, only 16% of 2009 ninth-graders who were ever suspended or expelled graduated from high school three years later in the 2012-2013 school year.

Figure S1.5. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were ever suspended or expelled through spring 2012, by cumulative high school grade point average and high school completion status: 2013

NCES_GPAcomplstatus

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009).

Sense of Belonging and Engagement in School

Additionally, in the table below we see that students who are suspended or expelled are less likely to feel a sense of belonging in school (the extent to which students felt: safe at school, proud of being part of the school, that there were teachers or other adults at school they could talk to if they had a problem, that school was often a waste of time, and that getting good grades was important to them), and/or less likely to be engaged in school (going to class without homework done, without pencil or paper, without books, or late).

Figure S1.4. Percentage of fall 2009 ninth-graders who were ever suspended or expelled through spring 2012, by school engagement and sense of school belonging: 2012

NCES_schoolengagement

1A school engagement scale was constructed based on students’ responses to questions about how frequently they went to class without homework done, without pencil or paper, without books, or late.
2A school belonging scale was constructed based on the extent to which students agreed or disagreed that they felt safe at school, that they felt proud of being part of the school, that there were always teachers or other adults at school they could talk to if they had a problem, that school was often a waste of time, and that getting good grades was important to them.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009).

Careful Not to Correlate

While this information does not mean that suspension causes poor grades, school dropouts, or disengagement, we can clearly see a relationship between those students who are suspended or expelled and their lower grades, engagement levels, sense of belonging, and non-completion of high school.

Perhaps by sharing this information with administrators and policy makers, Check & Connect mentors and coordinators can increase the “person-environment fit” — where we simultaneously support students to change their behavior and encourage the environment (parents, teachers, and schools) to change policies or practices to enhance students’ engagement at school and with learning — by encouraging alternatives to out-of-class suspension.

Further Information

For more information, visit:

  1. NCES blog post, What are the Characteristics of Students Who Have Ever Been Suspended or Expelled From School?
  2. NCES spotlight, Spotlight 1: Suspension and Expulsion by Student, Family, and Academic Characteristics
  3. Data from the NCES study, High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009)
  4. Our original blog post, Alternatives to Suspension

About the Authors: Megan Dushin is the communications coordinator for Check & Connect at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota and contributor/editor for this Attend-Engage-Invest blog. Jana Hallas, M.Ed., is a project coordinator and member of the Check & Connect training team. Xueqin Qian, Ph.D. is a research associate for Check & Connect. 

© 2016 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

One thought on “Longitudinal Data on Suspended/Expelled Youth

  1. Pingback: Alternatives to Suspension | Attend, Engage, Invest

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