Tail, Tusk, and Trunk: An Examination of What Different Metrics Reveal about Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline
63 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2017 Last revised: 18 Feb 2019
Date Written: April 4, 2018
There are substantial racial disparities in school discipline but little agreement on how best to measure them. The choice of metric can influence fundamental conclusions about the magnitude of racial disproportionality and which interventions are likely to address it. To inform the choice of metrics, this study used discipline data from a national sample of schools (N = 4,512) to examine the strengths and weaknesses of two common (risk ratio, risk difference) and three relatively novel (standardized effect size, raw differential representation, and discipline rate) approaches to assessing racial disproportionality. The raw number of students-of-color differentially disciplined was the most stable metric and captured the widest range of information. None of the metrics captured all relevant aspects of disproportionate discipline. Researchers and policy makers should be as deliberate as possible about their specific aims in measuring disproportionality and carefully select metrics that provide the information most responsive to their goals.
Keywords: Equity, School Discipline, Disproportionality, Cultural Responsiveness, School Discipline, Disparate Impact
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