Disproportionate Disciplinary Removals of Black Students with Disabilities from Their Learning Environment: The Influence on Reading Performance



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Background: Research shows the effects of exclusionary discipline persist for students who are Black and have disabilities, limited data is available to determine if there is a correlation between disciplinary removals of Black students with disabilities and their reading performance as measured by the annual state assessment. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of disciplinary removals on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in the reading performance of middle school Black students with disabilities compared to Black students with disabilities who do not receive disciplinary removals. This study sought to answer three questions: 1) How did Black middle school students with disabilities perform on the STAAR reading assessment, and what is percentage of this student group experienced ISS and/or OSS removals? 2) To what extent were there differences in STAAR reading performance for middle school students (Grades 6–8) with disabilities who are Black experiencing different levels of suspension (ISSs, OSSs, and no suspensions)? 3) To what extent were there differences in suspensions when considering campus of enrollment, gender, or socioeconomic status of Black students with disabilities in middle school? Methods: This quantitative study focused on six middle schools, encompassing grades six, seven, and eight. Disciplinary removals for this research included in-school suspension (ISS) and out-of-school suspensions (OSS), as these were two types of removals where students are removed from instruction provided by certified teaching staff as well as special education services outlined in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The study used a descriptive causal-comparative design to identify the influence that disciplinary removals had on the reading performance of Black middle school students eligible for special education services. Results: The results of this three-year study revealed that over half of the Black students with disabilities experienced a discipline removal while just under 13% of the population met a passing standard on the STAAR assessment. When comparing reading performance based on STAAR, scale scores were significantly lower for students who experienced both types of removals in comparison to their peers who did not experience any discipline removals. Additionally, when reviewing differences in suspensions by campus, gender, and socioeconomic status, there were statistically significant differences found in the types of discipline removals. Two of the six campuses showed statistically significant differences in their suspension practices which resulted in more student receiving disciplinary removals at one campus when compared to the campus with the fewest removals. When comparing male and female students, male students experienced significantly more removals than female students with the largest difference being those students who received both ISS and OSS removals. Regarding socioeconomic status, there were statistically significant differences between students with low-socioeconomic status receiving more suspensions and having higher OSS and both types of suspensions than their peers who were not classified as low SES. Conclusion: Black students with disabilities are experiencing high rates of suspensions. Those receiving both ISS and OSS encountered the most significant differences amongst their peers with disabilities of the same race which shows the need for interventions that support a decrease of discipline removals of students who are Black and have disabilities. Additionally, 38% of the sample students studied did not meet a passing standard on the reading STAAR and did not receive a discipline removal over the course of the three years within this study. This data reveals that there is a need to further explore the reasons for low reading performance as determined by the state assessment.



Students with disabilities, Discipline removals, Disproportionate, In-school suspension ISS, Out-of-school suspension OSS, Reading, Academic achievement, STAAR