Understanding Student Discipline Practices in Charter Schools: A Research Agenda

Fair use of exclusionary discipline is a rising concern in public schools. At issue is whether this type of discipline is disproportionately applied to certain groups of students and whether some charter schools use it more frequently. For the first time, data compiled by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights capture discipline practices from all public schools, allowing for comparison between the traditional public and charter sectors. However, because they are reported at the school level, not at the individual student level, these data paint an incomplete picture.

To truly understand discipline practices between and within school sectors, a panel of experts recommends a more comprehensive approach to capturing discipline data and evaluating and comparing school discipline practices. A robust research agenda on school discipline might include the reasons why different approaches to discipline policy are developed, how schools define and conceptualize discipline practices, the impact of discipline practices on teacher supply and turnover, the interplay between school culture and discipline and the effects of exclusionary discipline on the affected students and their peers and teachers.