Behavior Assessment and Intervention

September 2013

Alternative to Suspension Fact Sheet: Outcomes of Out-of School Suspension

The Myth of Effectiveness

Evidence from many studies suggests that out-of-school suspension is not effective in deterring behavior problems and is linked to harmful effects on schools and youth. Data shows that students who are suspended are more likely to engage in misbehavior in the future (Tobin, Sugai, & Colvin, 1996). Suspending students who engage in problem behaviors does not identify or address the students’ underlying problems; instead, it prevents the student from obtaining school support services (Townsend, 2000). Suspension decreases access to instruction and increases academic difficulties.

Negative outcomes for youth who are suspended

• Higher rates of misbehavior (Tobin, et.al., 1996).

• Lower academic achievement (APA, 2006).

• Drop-out and school failure (Bowditch, 1993).

• Restricted access to school services such as counseling and social skills instruction (Townsend, 2000).

• Feelings of alienation, anxiety, rejection, diminished self-esteem, withdrawal (DeRidder, 1991).

• Feeling unwelcome at school (Civil Rights Project, 2000).

• Harm to healthy adult relationships (APA, 2006).

• Unsupervised time and increased opportunity for delinquency (Advancement Project, 2005).

Negative outcomes for schools

• Lower academic achievement (APA, 2006).

• Diminished relationships with families and communities. (DeRidder, 1991).

• Loss of average daily attendance (ADA) funding (Skiba & Knesting, 2001).

• Lower ratings of school governance (Skiba & Rausch, 2006).

Use of Suspension

In 2011-12, over 85 percent of all disciplinary actions taken by school administrators in Minnesota public schools were out-of-school suspensions, resulting in 53,539 suspensions and 123,997 missed instructional days. The majority of suspensions are for behaviors that do not endanger others. In Minnesota, most incidents do NOT involve a weapon. The top suspension incident type for the 2011-2012 school year was disruptive/disorderly conduct/insubordination. Over 2,291 suspensions were for absences, which may exacerbate the problem of poor attendance. Proponents of out-of-school suspensions believe that suspending a student from school will deter future behavior problems. Research evidence contradicts these beliefs.