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A Think Twice Review of:

The Academic and Behavioral Consequences of Discipline Policy Reform: Evidence from Philadelphia

Think Twice - Feb 15, 2018

Publisher/Think Tank - The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Author(s) - Matthew P. Steinberg and Johanna Lacoe

A report from the Fordham Institute attempted to investigate the impact of a student discipline reform in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). The report concluded that the reform was a failure. The reform in question eliminated suspensions for certain low-level school misbehaviors. The Fordham report in question looked at district out-of-school suspension rates for students, academic and behavioral outcomes, and racial disparities in suspensions.

Reviewer(s) - Yolanda Anyon, University of Denver; and Kathryn E. Wiley, University of California San Diego.

An academic review of the report finds that the actual results of the reform were mixed, with positive trends for students who were earlier suspended being much stronger in magnitude than evidence of negative outcomes for students who were not. The reviewers also find fault with the report’s use of causal language, logical fallacies, and overly simplified interpretations within the findings. They conclude, “Given the Fordham’s selective presentation of the original study findings, we do not recommend that policy makers use its conclusions as the basis for policy decisions.”