A July 31, 2014 Washington Post article titled “High school suspensions plummet in Montgomery, falling nearly 37 percent” discussed reductions in suspension rates in the Montgomery County, Maryland School District, stating that while the gap has narrowed, suspensions of minority students continue to occur in disproportionate numbers. After discussion reflecting the general view that reducing suspensions, the article stated:
"Daniel J. Losen, a researcher who studies disparities in suspension, said Montgomery’s numbers show a narrowing of the suspension gap between black and white high school students. In 2012, for example, the rate of suspensions per 100 students was 12.1 for blacks and 2.4 for whites. It narrowed last year to 7.6 for blacks and 1.3 for whites, he said.
"For Hispanics, suspensions per 100 students fell from 5.8 in 2012 to 3.2 last year. For Asian Americans, suspensions per 100 students fell from 1.3 in 2012 to 0.8 last year. The gap narrowed between students with and without disabilities. Suspensions per 100 students with disabilities went from 12.3 to 6.9 during the same two-year period.
"'It’s still a problem, but they’ve made progress,' Losen said. 'Whatever they are doing, if they continue to do it, it could help a lot.'”
Losen’s group, the Center for Rights and Remedies of the Civil Rights Project of UCLA, commonly measures discipline disparities in terms of absolute differences between rates. But the groups’ publications never note that the Department of Education measures disparities in terms of relative differences in adverse outcomes and has shown no recognition that any measure tends to be systematically affected by the prevalence of an outcome or that, given the rate ranges at issues, reductions in discipline rates tend to result in increased relative differences and reduced absolute differences between rates of whites and minorities, irrespective of any change in the strength of the forces causing the rates to differ.
The table below shows that for both blacks and Hispanics, reductions in discipline rates exhibited the standard patterns whereby during a period of substantial reductions in discipline rates, relative differences in discipline rates increased, relative differences in rates of avoiding discipline decreased, and absolute differences decreased. The EES figures show that, to the extent the strength of the forces causing rates to differ can be measured, it remained essentially unchanged for the black-white difference and decreased slightly for the Hispanic-white difference.
Table 1.Black and white and Hispanic and white suspension rates in Montgomery County with measures of difference [ref b5605 a1]