While these figures may be staggering, for those in the trenches — educators and students alike — they present a very real problem. Students are struggling in school, and teachers are woefully unable to help them, by no fault of their own. This situation lends itself to a vicious cycle of behavior incidents, inconsistent consequences, and frustration… leading to an overwhelming feeling of helplessness on everyone's part. In fact, a MetLife survey (2012) indicates teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low and much of that dissatisfaction stems from student behavior and discipline issues including the lack of support in addressing these issues.
Schools have had to resort to suspensions as a primary means of discipline, and as a result, in- and out-of-school suspensions have been steadily increasing. An Office of Civil Rights national level study (Losen & Martinez, 2013) found that in 2009-10 more than 2,600 secondary schools suspended over 25% of their total enrollment at least once. Another study (Fabelo et al, 2011) also found that only 3% of the disciplinary incidents which resulted in suspension resulted from behaviors that the state requires removal (such as aggravated assault or using a firearm on school property).
The sheer number of behaviors that occur in the classroom on a daily basis can make it very difficult to formulate an accurate measure of the real challenges and needs. It can also be a challenge to figure out where to start when there can be so many variations in the types of behaviors.