Monday, January 7, 2013

Expulsion Differences

The Washington Post dug into the expulsion rates at DC schools and found that charter schools expelled students at a far higher rate than traditional public schools:
D.C. charter schools expelled 676 students in the past three years, while the city’s traditional public schools expelled 24, according to a Washington Post review of school data. During the 2011-12 school year, when charters enrolled 41 percent of the city’s students, they removed 227 children for discipline violations and had an expulsion rate of 72 per 10,000 students; the District school system removed three and had an expulsion rate of less than 1 per 10,000 students.
So the expulsion rate at DC charters was over seventy times that of traditional public schools.  Expelling poorly behaved students could be a strategy that these schools use to improve test scores.  Whether one supports the use of expulsion as a pedagogical tactic or not, this report does make clear that DC charters and traditional public schools are operating on very different disciplinary playing fields, which makes it more difficult to compare their academic performances.  The law has made it very difficult for traditional DC schools to expel students, forcing them to educate everyone.  Charters do not operate under the same public demands.

Moreover, as a factor only hinted at in this story, charters also have the ability to more credibly threaten expulsion.  This threat could also affect student behavior.  And, as this story notes, many charters offer students the ability to voluntarily leave the school instead of being expelled; these "voluntary" removals are not included in the tallies of expulsions.

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