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A Think Twice Review of:

Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores?

Think Twice - Jun 01, 2017

Publisher/Think Tank - UArk Department of Ed. Reform

Author(s) - Kaitlin P. Anderson, Gary W. Ritter, & Gema Zamarro

The Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas released a recent working paper on the association between out-of-school suspensions and student test scores. The paper concluded that punishment works, and that out-of-school suspension had a positive relationship to math and language arts test scores. However, an academic review of the paper finds multiple methodological and validity concerns, which limit the claims made.

Reviewer(s) - Brea L. Perry, Indiana University; and Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies initiative at the Civil Rights Project at UCLA

An academic review of the paper found multiple methodological and validity concerns, which limit the claims made. The reviewers found problems with the report, including: (1) the effects of out-of-school suspensions were not measured in the same year in which the suspensions occurred; and (2) other factors were not considered (viz., lost instructional time; the deterioration of student-teacher relationships; psychological distress; and other more immediate consequences of suspensions). The reviewers also noted that past research has predominantly shown exclusionary discipline to adversely effect test scores, GPA, grade retention, and increases the chances of a student dropping out. Because of this, the findings, according to the review, have weak face validity. In their conclusion, the reviewers state: “This paper offers no value for guiding disciplinary policy and practice.”