In the 2015-16 school year, U.S. students missed over 11 million in-class days due to out-of-school suspensions according to a new report from the Center for Civil Right Remedies (CCRR). For context, approximately 50 million students optimally have access to 180 in-class days, for a total of 9 billion instructional days. So on average, approximately one-tenth of a percent of instructional days are being missed due to suspensions.
That many sound like a small number, but breaking the data down by demographics uncovered alarming trends.
“The focus on the experiences of middle and high school students reveals profound disparities in terms of lost instructional times due to suspensions – stark losses that most policy makers and many educators were unaware of,” wrote Dan Losen, the lead researcher on the report and director for the CCRR.
The report found that because of being overdisciplined, students of color, particularly Black students, were five times more likely to lose instructional time than white students. Black students lost 103 days per 100 students, while white students lost 21 days per 100 students. This is a nationwide averaging – certain states have even greater disparities.
During the Obama administration, White House guidance to the Department of Education created a slate of civil rights regulation for students aimed at preventing the overdiscipline of students of color and students with disabilities, but rescinding those regulations was one of DeVos’s acts as Secretary of Education.
The study which generated the report was not able to look at student behavior in detail, because in 2015 there were no reporting requirements for behavioral data.
Other correlations found by the report include a direct association between more security guards and more suspensions of black students—but not white students—again, ensuring that students of color are overdisciplined in comparison to their white peers
“Our hope is that this research will help policymakers and education leaders at the federal, state, and local level to better comprehend the extent of this disparate harm for students,” said Losen.