Efficacy of in-school suspension practices in selected Texas schools with character education programs




McDonald, Mark Randall

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In-school suspension (ISS) is widely used in schools, but its efficacy in deterring future misbehavior has long been suspect. Early writings on ISS indicate that the programs were expected to have a character-building aspect to them, but such aspects appear to be missing from current ISS programs. Concurrently, an increased emphasis in character education appears evident. This study questioned the extent to which ISS at schools that practice some form of character education promotes the social and academic success of students. To gauge that effectiveness, a qualitative multiple-case study was conducted. Interviews and site visits were conducted at three West Texas schools during the spring semester of the 2013-14 school year. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students were interviewed to determine their perceptions of ISS and its efficacy. Observations and descriptions of the programs as given by participants were compared to those of early writers, including a specific description given by Hayes Mizell (1978), to determine whether ISS was being practiced according to its earlier ideals. The study found that ISS in schools where character education was practiced was moderately effective in promoting the social success of assigned students, but was ineffective in promoting their academic success. Schools in this study were found to partially adhered to the principles espoused by Mizell (1978). Various affective and functional factors could have an impact on ISS efficacy as a punitive measure. Participants were divided on their assessment of ISS. Almost all participants supportive of character education efforts, but many recognized the importance of consistent expectations and reinforcement.


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character, discipline, interview, ISS, recidivism, suspension, in-school suspension



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies