Each year many students are subject to exclusionary discipline, in fact, 60% of students in Texas are disciplined at-least once between grades 7 through 12. The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of school discipline contact on students’ risk for grade retention and school dropout using a statewide sample of nearly one million 7th grade students tracked through their 12th grade year. Results indicate that school discipline relates to a 24% increase in high school dropout. These additional dropouts are associated with an economic effect of between $750 million and $1.35 billion per year.

Results also indicate that school discipline is associated with approximately 6,600 grade retentions per year in the state of Texas. The delayed workforce entry related to grade retention has an effect of over $100 million for the state, including $5.7 million in lost tax revenue. Given the higher discipline rate for minorities, these costs disproportionately affect them. Further, the additional year of instruction costs the state over $76 million dollars.

Key Take Away Points

  • School discipline is associated with elevated grade retention and dropout
  • The elevated dropout associated with school discipline costs Texas society between $750 million and $1.35 billion annually
  • The elevated grade retention associated with school discipline costs Texas society over $175 million per year

Author Biography

Miner Marchbanks is an Associate Research Scientist at the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University and Lecturer at the Bush School of Government and Public Service. His research focuses on the use of advanced statistical methodologies to answer public policy questions. He can be reached at trey@ppri.tamu.edu.

Jamilia Blake is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. Her research interests surround children's peer relations. She can be reached at jjblake@tamu.edu.

Danielle Smith is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. She can be reached at dsmith@ppri.tamu.edu.

Allison Seibert is a Senior Research Associate at PPRI. She can be reached at aseibert@ppri.tamu.edu.

Dottie Carmichael is a Research Scientist at PPRI. Her research has primarily focused on juvenile justice and adult criminal case processing. She can be reached at dottie@ppri.tamu.edu.

Eric Booth is a Research and Evaluation Consultant at Gibson Consulting Group. His research focuses on health and education policy analysis and statistical methodology. He can be reached at eric.a.booth@gmail.com

Tony Fabelo is the Austin-based director of research of the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments (CSG). He was the executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council from 1991-2003. He can be reached at tfabelo@csg.org.


Portions of this research were supported by Grant #(2012-JF-FX-4064) awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Special thanks to Daniel Losen for comments on previous versions of the manuscript and to Jackie Stillisano and Kim Wright for impeccable assistance in the research process. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice and are not endorsed by the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, CSG or the State of Texas. Portions of this research have appeared in Fabelo, et al (2011) and Breaking Schools Rules Marchbanks et al (in press).

Reprinted by permission of the Publisher. From Daniel Losen. Closing the School Discipline Gap: Equitable Remedies for Excessive Exclusion. New York: Teachers College Press. Copyright © 2015 by Teachers College, Columbia University. All rights reserved.