Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores?
school discipline, exclusionary discipline, academic impacts, causal inference
A vast body of research has proven the correlation between exclusionary discipline (out-of-school suspensions and expulsions) and student outcomes such as lower test scores, dropout, grade retention, and involvement in the juvenile justice system, but there is no consensus on the causal impacts of exclusionary discipline. This study uses six years of de-identified demographic, achievement, and disciplinary data from all K-12 public schools in Arkansas to estimate the causal relationship. We conduct dynamic panel data models incorporating student fixed effects using Anderson-Hsiao (1981) estimation. We find, counter-intuitively, a null to positive impact of out-of-school suspensions on test scores. Therefore, while policymakers may have other reasons to limit exclusionary discipline, we should not expect academic gains to follow.
Anderson, Kaitlin P.; Ritter, Gary W.; and Zamarro, Gema, "Understanding a Vicious Cycle: Do Out-of-School Suspensions Impact Student Test Scores?" (2017). Education Reform Faculty and Graduate Students Publications. 11.