Strictly speaking: Examining teacher use of punishment and student outcomes

63 Pages Posted: 2 May 2022 Last revised: 22 Jul 2022

See all articles by Stephen Holt

Stephen Holt

State University of New York (SUNY) - Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy

Katie Vinopal

Ohio State University (OSU) - John Glenn School of Public Affairs

Heasun Choi

University at Albany (SUNY)

Lucy Sorensen

University at Albany (SUNY)

Date Written: July 22, 2022

Abstract

While a growing body of literature has documented the negative impacts of exclusionary punishments, such as suspensions, on academic outcomes, less is known about how teachers vary in disciplinary behaviors and the attendant impacts on students. We use administrative data from North Carolina elementary schools to examine the extent to which teachers vary in their use of referrals and investigate the impact of more punitive teachers on student attendance and achievement. We also estimate the effect of teachers' racial bias in the use of referrals on student outcomes. We find more punitive teachers increase student absenteeism and reduce student achievement. Moreover, more punitive teachers negatively affect the achievement of students who do not receive disciplinary sanctions from the teacher. Similarly, while teachers with racial bias in the use of referrals do not negatively affect academic outcomes for White students, they significantly increase absenteeism and reduce achievement for Black students. We find the negative effects of both more punitive and more biased teachers persist into middle school and beyond. The results suggest punitive disciplinary measures do not aid teachers in productively managing classrooms; rather, teachers taking more punitive stances may undermine student engagement and learning in both the short- and long-run. Furthermore, bias in teachers' referral usage contributes to inequities in student outcomes.

Keywords: Teacher effectiveness, Absences, Student discipline

Suggested Citation

Holt, Stephen and Vinopal, Katie and Choi, Heasun and Sorensen, Lucy, Strictly speaking: Examining teacher use of punishment and student outcomes (July 22, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4093118 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4093118

Stephen Holt (Contact Author)

State University of New York (SUNY) - Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy ( email )

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
United States

Katie Vinopal

Ohio State University (OSU) - John Glenn School of Public Affairs ( email )

110 Page Hall
1810 College Road
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Heasun Choi

University at Albany (SUNY) ( email )

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
United States

Lucy Sorensen

University at Albany (SUNY) ( email )

1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
United States

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