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Research-based practices for reducing suspensions and expulsions in early childhood settings

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions occur regularly in early childhood settings and at a much higher rate than in K-12 education. Young children (under 5 years old) are expelled from state-funded preschool at three times the rate of K-12 students (Gilliam, 2005), and private and community child care programs expel children at more than 13 times the rate of K-12 students (Gilliam & Shaher, 2006).
There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that suspensions and expulsions have profound effects on children. When children are excluded from learning environments by being suspended or expelled, they are more likely to be placed on a negative developmental trajectory (i.e., the “preschool to prison pipeline”) and put at increased risk for multiple adverse outcomes, such as academic failure and juvenile incarceration (Adamu & Hogan, 2015; Lochner & Moretti, 2004). In addition, the data indicates that disparity in discipline begins in preschool. Exclusionary discipline practices are by and large disproportionately applied by age, gender, and race (Gilliam, 2005; Skiba et al., 2002).
To address this complex issue, we conducted an extensive literature review and sought guidance and input from national experts to develop a guide that communicates research-based strategies and policies for reducing early childhood suspensions and expulsions. In support of SRCD’s strategic goals, the guide translates research into accessible and actionable recommendations that support program administrators and providers/teachers in preventing and addressing challenging child behavior through inclusive and culturally responsive research-based practices.
Included in the interactive guide is an introduction into the research on and prevalence of suspensions and expulsions in early childhood settings, a description of the key issues, and detailed guidance on evidence-based and promising policies and practices. Recommended policies and practices are organized into three tiers, paralleling a multitier system of support: (1) program- and school-wide supports; (2) supports for working with individual classrooms; and (3) supports for teachers working with individual students. Each recommended policy and practice includes concrete steps and examples, an examination of potential roadblocks and solutions, and a curated set of resources.
In addition, the practice guide includes a self-assessment to help program leaders reflect and prioritize what recommended policies and practices are most necessary and timely to implement. The results of the self-assessment provide a roadmap to navigating the practice guide. Using self-assessment data collected through the interactive guide (n=722), we find that 100% of respondents are recommended policies and practices focused on supports for working with individual classrooms (i.e., modifying the classroom environment, practices to promote social-emotional development, practices to cultivate a culturally inclusive climate) and 100% would benefit from training staff on cultural awareness and implicit biases. Other common needs identified through the self-assessment is the need to collect and use data on disciplinary practices (67%) and the need to explore and adopt a multi-tiered system of support (89%).
This poster will share information on the guide, self-assessment data on areas of practitioner-identified challenges and needs, and recommended policies and practices aligned to the areas of need.

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