The current overemphasis on out-of-school suspension as a response to misbehavior is unwise and unproductive. While efforts to persuade policymakers to replace harmful or ineffective policies and practices are hampered by paucity in publicly reported information, enough is known to suggest several changes in the nation's present course. Therefore, and based on the research reviewed above, the following recommendations for improved policies and practices will help safeguard the civil rights of our school children and create more effective and equitable learning environments:
• Public school educators should routinely collect, reflect upon, and publicly report data on school disciplinary removal. Reports at the state, district, and school level (where permissible) should include data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender and disability status in terms of numbers of each group disciplined. These reports should also include the percentage of each group that experiences suspension and expulsion, as well as disaggregated incidence data on the type of infraction and whether the infraction was a first offense.
*398 • Civil rights enforcement agents should use the disparate impact standard of legal review as grounds to pursue remedies for the unjust and unnecessary removal of children from school.
• When Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it should provide positive incentives for schools, districts and states to support students, teachers and school leaders in systemic improvements to classroom and behavior management where rates of disciplinary exclusion are high--even where disparities do not suggest unlawful discrimination.
• Federal and state policy should specify the rate of out-of-school suspensions as one of several key factors to be considered in assessments of school efficacy, especially for low-performing schools.
• Researchers should investigate connections between school discipline data and key outcomes such as achievement, graduation rates, teacher effectiveness, and college and career readiness.
• Systemwide improvements should be pursued through better policies and practices at all levels--including an effort to improve teachers' skills in classroom and behavior management.
Ultimately, U.S. policymakers must find more effective ways to educate all of the nation's children, including those that may be challenging to engage.