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Suspension Practices in the Context of PBIS: Implications for K-8 Students in the School District of Philadelphia

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $883,519)

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania proposes a Category 3 research study: Suspension practices in the context of SWPBIS: Implications for K-8 students in the School District of Philadelphia. The proposed study is collaboration between CPRE and the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) that will examine the intersection of SDP’s School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) initiative with schools’ suspension practices. The project will: 1) will generate new evidence about the effects of schools’ disciplinary practices on patterns of student suspension in Philadelphia; and 2) inform the alignment of policies with the SDP’s shift toward SWPBIS. The project will contribute significantly to the knowledge base about implementing SWPBIS in fiscally challenged urban districts where exclusionary disciplinary practices have long been used. The study’s mixed-methods design includes: 1) The empirical development of a typology of disciplinary practices within SDP schools, and an examination of suspension data as it relates to that typology; 2) in-depth qualitative examination of the structures and practices around discipline; and 3) the development of policy and practice recommendations SDP can immediately use to support schools in implementing SWPBIS and reducing suspensions. The typology of disciplinary practices will be developed using agglomerative cluster analysis, and event history analysis will be used to examine the relationship of the profiles that emerge from the typology with student suspensions. We will test whether student and school covariates are related to suspensions or moderate school profile effects. The sample for the empirical analysis will include all 147 elementary and K-8 schools in SDP. The qualitative component of the study will use a case study approach that includes multiple sources of data (interviews, observations, document analysis) and extensive field work in 12 schools. Case study research will be focused on 12 schools—8 that are currently implementing SWPBIS and 4 that are not. CPRE will release a formal research report at the conclusion of the project. In addition, we will employ a multimedia dissemination strategy that will include: brief, accessible reports tailored to SDP, education policy makers in general, school practitioners, and the criminal justice community; live panel discussions; webinars; and outreach and presentations to targeted trade and professional organizations. Data from the project will be archived with the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf
Date Created: September 29, 2015