Promoting Equity by Reducing Exclusionary Disciplinary Actions Within a Multi-tiered System of Supports Webinar (Register Now)

Presenters: Chris Huzinec

Traditional exclusionary disciplinary actions negatively impact all students. Unfortunately, these practices are most often used with students who can least afford to miss out on the instructional process, such as minorities, economically disadvantaged students, and students served in special education. This presentation uses the evaluation of a MTSS program to illustrate a systemic approach to reducing disciplinary actions, including identifying implicit bias, applying restorative justice, and integrating dispositional discipline data in a school’s data-driven decision-making process.  

This presentation emphasizes the importance of promoting equity by reducing exclusionary disciplinary actions, especially for those disproportionately represented, and evaluates a multi-tiered proactive behavioral support program that encompasses many of the “best practices” suggested by the research (Gregory & Fergus, 2017; Skiba, Shure, Middelberg, & Baker, 2012; Steinberg & Lacoe, 2017).

  • Providing strategies that teach students social-emotional skills and productive behavioral expectations;
  • Providing targeted professional development and support for educators to help them learn proactive classroom management that can be aligned with efforts to improve school climate;
  • Providing training on implicit bias and restorative justice for all teachers, administrators, and staff;
  • Developing transparent disciplinary practices that consistently use a range of consequences for disruptive behaviors that match in severity;
  • The use of exclusion as a last resort; and
  • Employing a disciplinary data collection and reporting system that can be used to alert educators when they are employing disciplinary action disproportionately for specific student groups.

We highlight promising practices and effective educational programs and identify enablers to their sustainability. We also discuss the barriers and challenges that still persist when replacing exclusionary disciplinary procedures with inclusive methods of behavioral support. We also examine the “best practices” that have been used to combat the issues underlying the use of disproportionate disciplinary actions.

In discussing the reports, research, and practices, including successes as well as barriers, this presentation addresses those specific groups that have been shown to receive disproportionate rates of suspension, alternative placements, referrals to juvenile justice, and restraints and seclusion. We then discuss the main principles for continuing to address disproportionality in relationship to school climate, and prevention in terms of behavioral expectations and consequences. Included in these efforts are a discussion on how Social Emotional Learning (SEL) can address disproportionality. Specifically, how SEL can help promote equity by teaching students social skills that enable empathy and understanding of others from diverse cultures in order to contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities.

Additionally, this presentation chronicles the results from an evaluation of a web-based, district-wide, proactive behavioral support program on improving exclusionary discipline actions and reducing disproportionality. This evaluation focused on assessing a program designed to support student behavior at all tiers by providing professional development for teachers and support staff, individualized support of students at their level of need, a mechanism to collect data for identifying student groups at-risk for disproportionality, implementation fidelity, and data for progress monitoring of students with individualized behavior plans. The professional development includes training on classroom- and school-level positive supports and socially responsible expectations, as well as modules specific to discipline disproportionality, including how to track data, identify implicit bias, and apply restorative justice. This three-year longitudinal evaluation was conducted to determine the impact on student outcomes by collecting, presenting, and analyzing disciplinary data as an example of how data can be used to support equity efforts.