Nav: Home

Study: Black students receive fewer warnings from teachers about misbehavior

July 29, 2019

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A new study of racial and ethnic disparities in school discipline found that black middle school students were significantly less likely than their white peers to receive verbal or written warnings from their teachers about behavioral infractions.

"While at first glance, disparities in teacher warnings seem less concerning than being expelled or sent to the principal's office, warnings represent opportunities for students to correct their behavior before the consequences escalate and they're removed from the learning environment," said University of Illinois social work professor Kate M. Wegmann, who led the study.

Wegmann and her co-author, graduate student Brittanni Smith, examined data from more than 4,100 students at 17 schools. The students were sixth- through ninth- graders at schools in two North Carolina communities.

Students were surveyed about the various types of misconduct they had engaged in at school over the prior 30 days - including tardiness, turning in homework late, arguing with teachers and physical fights with other students - and the frequency of these infractions.

Students also were asked about the types of discipline they received, including verbal warnings from their teachers, written warnings sent to their homes or phone calls to their parents. They also reported on exclusionary forms of discipline they may have experienced, such as being sent to the principal's office and school suspensions.

Although the researchers found as hypothesized that black students were more likely than their white peers to experience exclusionary forms of discipline, some of the most significant differences were in black students' likelihood of receiving written or verbal warnings.

Wegmann and Smith analyzed the data using two techniques. First, they calculated and compared the percentages of black or white students reporting each type of misbehavior and any disciplinary consequences they experienced. This method has been used in previous studies to identify discipline disparities.

Using this technique, they found that while black students composed only 23% of the study population, these students accounted for 37% of the school suspensions and more than 35% of the office referrals.

Likewise, about half of those students who reported three or more suspensions or who had at least three warnings sent or called to their homes were black, according to the study.

Using a second data analysis technique called binary logistic regression, the researchers investigated disparities by race and sex among the behavioral infractions and the forms of discipline. Unlike the traditional percentage comparison method, binary logistic regression accounts for individual characteristics like the number and frequency of infractions reported when estimating the odds of receiving a form of discipline.

Regardless of the number or frequency of their infractions, black students were less likely than their white peers to be warned about their behaviors in the classroom or in messages to their parents, the researchers found. Even among those students who reported three or more incidents of misbehavior, black males were less likely than white males to be warned by their teachers about misconduct.

Black males were 95% less likely than white males to receive verbal warnings directly from teachers, and black students of either sex were 84% less likely to have multiple warnings directed to their parents, according to the study.

Black males were more likely than all other students to have been suspended from school three or more times, according to the study.

"These findings point toward a trend of heightened consequences with little or no forewarning for black male students, even when behavioral infractions are accounted for," the researchers wrote.

Although black females were not more likely to be suspended than white females, they were more likely to be warned verbally or in writing and to be sent to the principal's office for similar types and frequency of misbehavior.
-end-
The study was published recently in the journal Children and Youth Services Review.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.