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How Are Suspensions Related to School Climate in California Middle Schools?

By Gregory Austin, Thomas Hanson, Alexis Stern, Gary Zhang, Rebeca Cerna


Research has indicated that exclusionary discipline practices such as out-of-school suspensions can have unintended negative effects and have been disproportionately used with students of color. In response, California has taken a leading role nationally in reducing suspension rates and attempting to improve school climate.

To explore the impact of these reform efforts, this report analyzes recent trends in suspension rates and in school climate at the middle school level in California. Using suspension-rate data reported to the state and school climate data from WestEd’s California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS), the report explores how recent changes in suspension rates relate to changes in school climate.

Analyzing the CHKS data in relation to suspension rates offers an opportunity to understand how school climate and safety may have changed in California schools from the perspective of the students themselves during the past decade of statewide disciplinary reform advocacy and enactment. Overall, the analyses indicate that school climate improved most in schools that also experienced the greatest declines in out-of-school suspension rates. There was no evidence to support concerns that reductions in suspension rates would lead to reductions in school safety.

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Copyright: 2020
Format: PDF
Pages: 61
Publisher: WestEd