Breaking Schools’ Rules

A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

A recent and unprecedented study of nearly one million Texas public school students, followed for over six years, reveals nearly 60 percent were either suspended or expelled. This and additional findings are presented in a special report prepared by the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University in partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement features these and other key findings:

  • Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • African-American students and those with particular disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions.
  • Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once.
  • Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.

This study relied on more than 6 million school and juvenile justice records (for every student who was in seventh grade in a Texas public school in academic years 2000, 2001 and 2002), even tracking those students who moved from one school to another within the state.