Campus behavior management is important for ensuring classroom order and promoting positive academic outcomes. Previous studies have shown the importance of individual student and campus personnel characteristics and campus context for explaining campus discipline rates (e.g., rates of suspension and expulsion). Assessing campus discipline rates, while controlling for these individual and campus characteristics, is important for the monitoring, evaluation, and intervention role of policymakers as well as state and federal level education agencies.

Systems or metrics exist that measure other student outcomes (i.e., academic performance) with controls for individual and campus characteristics, but none exist that monitor these differences for discipline rates across campuses. In this paper, we use a multivariate model to analyze a longitudinal, statewide dataset for all secondary students in Texas from 2000 to 2008 in order to examine how campus discipline rates differ across schools with statistically similar students, teachers, and campus characteristics. The findings are important for understanding that some schools with similar characteristics have significantly different exclusionary discipline rates, and they are important for informing policy and agency level decision-making. The methodology described can easily be used by monitoring agencies as well as local school districts.

Key Take Away Points

  • Schools with statistically similar student, teacher, and campus characteristics discipline students at significantly different rates.
  • School data for monitoring, assessment, and intervention for schools with discipline rates significantly higher than expected already exist and are readily accessible – utilizing this multivariate data will enable policymakers and education agencies to better compare and identify campuses based on discipline practices.
  • Even after controlling for the resources and challenges for each campus, discipline rates differ significantly from expected rates at many campuses in Texas, even across campuses within the same school district.

Author Biography

Eric Booth is Senior Research Associate at the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University and a Lecturer in the Department of Public Health and Policy Management at the Texas A&M Health Sciences, School of Rural Public Health. His research focuses on health and education policy analysis and statistical methodology. He can be reached at: Eric A. Booth, Office 313, 4476 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4476 or ebooth@tamu.edu.

Dottie Carmichael is a Research Scientist at the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University. Her research has primarily focused on juvenile justice and adult criminal case processing. She can be reached at dottie@ppri.tamu.edu.

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

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.


The conclusions of the researcher are not those of, and are not endorsed by, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or the State of Texas. Portions of this research were funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and Open Society Institute. The authors would like to thank the following people for their helpful feedback: Deborah Fowler, Jim Scheurich Russell Skiba, and. Guy Whitten. All remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors. Portions of this research appeared in a technical report and were presented at the Children At Risk Children’s Law Symposium in Fall 2011.



Responses to this Article:

Deborah F. Fowler and Michael F. Vitris, Comparative Disciplinary Rates as a Tool for Reducing Exclusionary Discipline and Eliminating the School to Prison Pipeline (October 2012)