Expert on School Discipline to Present Findings at National Conference
Will describe results of study on racial and gender differences in school discipline
Release Date: January 7, 2013
BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education Professor Jeremy D. Finn, PhD, will speak Thursday, Jan. 10, at a national conference on school discipline, suspensions, security and misbehavior, with special emphasis on alternatives to excluding students from schools.
Finn, a national educational expert whose specialties include the effect of class size on learning, academic performance, graduation rates and future employment, says the conference will inform educational policy makers about current research on school suspensions and racial/ethnic disparities in particular.
The conference, “Closing the School Discipline Gap: Research to Remedies,” is sponsored by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, the Equity Center at Indiana University, the Gallup organization and others. It will be held at the Gallup Center in Washington, D.C. Admission is free but registration is required.
“There will be a lot of discussion of alternatives to excluding students from school, which is known as harmful to many students,” says Finn, a professor and associate dean for research in UB’s Graduate School of Education. “School security measures play a major part in this issue. The audience will be educational administrators, policy makers at all levels and government representatives.”
Finn will present the paper, coauthored by Canisius College’s Timothy Servoss, PhD, “Misbehavior, Suspensions and Security Measures in High School: Racial/Ethnic and Gender Differences.” In it, Finn and Servoss examine the characteristics of schools that implemented the most extreme security measures and those with the highest levels of discipline.
The study used data on individual students to examine misbehavior and race and gender disparities in suspensions.
The paper concluded with numerous findings. Among them:
- Out-of-school suspensions were more frequent among schools in higher-crime neighborhoods. Thus, students suspended may be relegated to an environment not conducive to positive educational or social outcomes.
- In-school suspensions serve a “gateway” function with regard to out-of-school suspensions. They may provide a time and place to address behavior problems before they occur.
- African-American students and Hispanic/Latino students were suspended at higher rates than were non-Hispanic whites, differences in most cases not attributable to different levels of misbehavior.
“All of these have implications for school policy and practice,” the paper states.
Finn was one of the principal investigators in the largest randomized study ever done in American education on class size. The landmark longitudinal study of 12,000 students started in 1985 and is ongoing, as researchers assess whether there is a connection between class size and other life characteristics such as employment and mortality rates.
“The study has followed the students into young adulthood and found long-term effects of attending small classes in elementary grades," Finn says. "The benefits of small class size include higher test scores, higher rates of taking advanced course work and higher rates of taking the SATs and ACTs.”