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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced a 13.9 percent decline in the number of students expelled during the 2014-15 academic year, and a 12.8 percent decrease in the number of students suspended compared to the year before. This marks the third year in a row of significant declines in both areas.
Since 2011-12, when the California Department of Education (CDE) began collecting and reporting detailed data, suspensions have declined by 33.6 percent and expulsions have dropped 40.4 percent. Statewide, 919 fewer students were expelled in 2014-15 compared to the year before. Similarly, 35,780 fewer students were suspended.
The latest figures reflect efforts by the CDE and school districts to provide alternative programs and options to keep more children in school.
“The research and data are abundantly clear in this area: Removing children from school and keeping them away from an educational environment can be very harmful,” Torlakson said. “This continuing decline in suspensions and expulsions is a tremendous credit to CDE staff, local districts, administrators, teachers and parents who are all working together to develop effective solutions to increase school attendance and learning.”
The CDE initiated forums and workshops to make districts, administrators and teachers aware of “restorative justice” programs that help students understand the nature and consequences of their actions. Other strategies include teaching life skills and emotional control.
CDE data revealed that students in certain ethnic groups experienced a disproportionate percentage of expulsions and suspensions. Lawmakers sought to reduce those offenses and passed Assembly Bill 420 in 2013 that limits suspensions and expulsions for disruptive behavior in certain grades. A disparity persists, as African-American students represent 6 percent of total statewide enrollment but make up a 16.4 percent of students suspended, a rate identical to last year. White students represent 24.6 percent of total enrollment, but make up 20.9 percent of those suspended. Hispanic students account for 53.6 percent of total enrollment and represent 54 percent of those suspended.
The suspension and expulsion data are available on the CDE’s DataQuest. Downloadable data files are available at cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/sd/filesesd.asp.
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