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Soft exclusions, hard solutions: Examining the precursors to and solutions for exclusionary discipline in early childhood

Sat, March 25, 8:15 to 9:45am, Salt Palace Convention Center, Floor: 2, Meeting Room 251 C

Session Type: Paper Symposium


Over 50,000 children are excluded from early childhood settings each year. Though state and federal policymakers have called for reforms, research into the processes, mechanisms, disparities, and solutions still lags behind that in K-12 settings. This symposium aims to describe the complexity of the issue and elevate the voices of key stakeholders (i.e., parents, teachers, and administrators) as we work towards solutions.

The first paper explores precursors to expulsions in early childhood and reports on teachers’ use of and perceptions of soft exclusionary discipline strategies (e.g., sending a child to the director’s office or missing out on outside time). By exploring associations with other factors, such as teacher burnout and classroom composition, this paper seeks to advance our understanding of the roots of exclusionary discipline approaches. The second paper asks why some children who have received multiple behavioral warnings are retained while others are expelled. Specifically, this paper examines differential program responses to behavior concerns while accounting for child- and family-level factors associated with expulsion. The final two papers in this panel are seeking solutions. The third paper uses a randomized design to examine what types of in-service teacher training (trauma-informed skills or self-reflection and emotion regulation skills) can help mitigate children’s expulsion risk over time. The final paper examines the implementation of one state’s legislative initiatives to reduce expulsion (e.g., targeted technical assistance and social-emotional professional development) and reports on the forms of exclusionary discipline in use and administrators' understanding of the state’s policies.

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Individual Presentations