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Discipline measures indicate whether students are not just present, but engaged and ready to learn.

School engagement and participation have become the focus of educators over the past decade as they are linked to achievement and dropout rates. In order to learn, a student has to be both physically and mentally present in the classroom, on a consistent basis, ready to receive instruction. Students who are in class, on time, and behaving well are more likely to be actively and productively engaged in their own education.

Measures of engagement and participation vary; however, research has proven that, along with absenteeism, a high number of disciplinary incidents signal disruptions in the continuity and quality of a student’s learning and can affect those around them. Also similar to attendance information, discipline information is accessible beginning early in the school year – even before course performance data is available. As a result, these data are powerful and useful early indicators for identifying students in need of immediate intervention. In the case of a student who is receiving interventions, engagement measures can also provide educators with an important measure of a student's readiness to learn.

When viewed together, discipline and participation metrics help educators understand the true story of how productively individual students and groups of students are engaged in school.

Students who misbehave are often calling out for help. Educators must monitor discipline in order to track these warning signs early and intervene. Misbehavior often leads to removal from the classroom or, in more serious cases, the school, further disrupting instruction. Disruptive behavior affects not only the learning of the student misbehaving but also every student in the classroom.

  • Out-of-school suspensions in the ninth grade year are significantly and negatively correlated to later high school graduation as well as postsecondary enrollment and persistence (Balfanz, Byrnes, Fox, 2014).
  • Among students receiving one or more out of school suspensions in sixth grade, only 20% graduated within one year of on-time. The likelihood of graduation was further decreased for students with two or more suspensions (Balfanz, Herzog, & MacIver, 2007).
  • Sixth grade students in Philadelphia receive a behavior grade based on their conduct. Among the 38% of sixth graders receiving a final unsatisfactory behavior grade, only 24% graduated on time (Balfanz, Herzog, & MacIver, 2007).
  • Unsatisfactory behavior is strongly linked to course failure: 77% of the students failing math, and 80% of the students failing English in the sixth grade also had unsatisfactory behavior grades (Balfanz, Herzog, & MacIver, 2007).

Because of the timeliness of discipline data, problem behavior that may lead to academic difficulties can often be detected before course performance data are available. Ideally, teachers would review discipline data weekly, but at a minimum on a monthly basis, to ensure behavior issues are addressed.

Research suggests three strategies that are effective at addressing student misbehavior in the school environment (Balfanz, Herzog, & MacIver, 2007):

  • Constantly recognize and model positive behavior.
  • Follow the first incident of misbehavior with a consistent, timely response.
  • Work collaboratively among teachers, administrators and counselors to examine data on when, where, and which students misbehave to devise individual and school-wide solutions.

Related Metrics

The following metrics are documented in this section:


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