Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? (February 2015)
Nearly 3.5 million public school students were suspended out of school at least once in 2011-12.
That is more than one student suspended for every public school teacher in America. This means that
more students were suspended in grades K-12 than were enrolled as high school seniors. To put this in
perspective, the number of students suspended in just one school year could fill all of the stadium seats
for nearly all the Super Bowls ever played—!(the first 45). Moreover, recent estimates are that one in
three students will be suspended at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade (Shollenberger, 2015).
If we ignore the discipline gap, we will be unable to close the achievement gap. Of the 3.5 million
students who were suspended in 2011-12, 1.55 million were suspended at least twice. Given that the
average suspension is conservatively put at 3.5 days, we estimate that U.S. public school children lost nearly
18 million days of instruction in just one school year because of exclusionary discipline.