June 2010

Teaching Discipline: A Toolkit for Educators on Positive Alternatives to Out-of-School Suspensions

Alexandra Dufresne, J.D., Annemarie Hillman, Cari Carson, & Tamara Kramer

Connecticut's school suspension law, which goes into effect on July 1, 2010, limits the use of out-of-school suspensions as a means of disciplining students. This research report points to promising practices that Connecticut schools and districts have used to reduce their reliance on out-of-school suspensions. Data from the State Department of Education indicate that out-of-school suspensions in Connecticut have begun to decline in most cities and towns. The percentage of students who received an out-of-school suspension dropped from 7.1 percent in 2006-2007 to 5.4 percent in 2008-2009. Three out of four school districts (73%) reported decreases, and only one in ten (10%) reported increases.

The law allows for many other forms of intervention to improve students' behavior. The report, based on interviews with numerous local school officials, documents numerous strategies that schools across the state have found effective in improving school discipline. A few of the dozens of examples from the report include School-wide Behavior Supports, reviewing disciplinary data, teaching of social skills, mentoring, cool down options, reflective essays, apologies, and community service. The report includes data on suspension rates in local school districts.

Issue Areas:
Education, Juvenile Justice