California reports suspensions down by 50,000 students

Oakland schools showed major improvements in schools that implemented restorative justice practices. Source: Oakland Unified School District, 2015

California released data today showing school suspensions and expulsions continue to fall as a result of new state laws and a wave of actions by communities and educators to keep students in school.

School suspensions are down 25% over the past two years, and 15% last year alone. Expulsions fell by 20% last year. That equates to 50,000 fewer students suspended in 2013-14 than in the previous year.

Click here to read the news release from the California Department of Education.

Click here to get the school discipline data for the state or your local schools and select the “expulsion, suspension and truancy” option.

Fewer suspensions = more students learning. But educators need support to make lasting change at their schools.

The data suggests that alternative approaches to harsh school discipline such as positive behavior support and restorative justice are contributing to a culture change at the state’s schools. But more research needs to be done to ensure that research-proven alternatives are in place and working. The state of California should track whether classrooms are truly welcoming for students and educators, and whether educators are receiving the support they need to assist students who struggle with trauma, social emotional learning, and behavior.

The data shows that “willful defiance” is still cited as the top single reason for student suspensions in 37% of student suspensions. The adoption this year of AB 420 to eliminate in-school and out-of-school suspensions for students in grade K-3 and all expulsions for willful defiance and disruption should promote more safe, effective alternatives for minor misbehavior. Click here to read about what school districts are doing to implement AB 420.
Unfortunately, significant school discipline disparities still exist for students of color. This highlights the need to focus in on effective practices that specifically address disparities.

This data was issued the same day that Oakland Unified School District released a comprehensive study of its restorative justice implementation efforts, showing improvements in reading level, graduation rates and other key measures.

Because of your efforts, 50,000 fewer California students received school suspensions in 2013-14 than the previous year. Yet 279,000 students still faced a suspension when we know there’s a better way. Let’s keep the pressure on to build more safe and supportive schools that deliver the education all students deserve.

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