Prefatory note added July 1, 2016: This subpage and related subpages discuss the pattern whereby general reductions in discipline rates tend to increase relative differences in discipline rates and the proportions groups more susceptible to discipline make up of persons disciplined. A May 5, 2015 American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island press release titled “ACLU Finds Increasing Racial Disparities in School Suspension Rates” discussed that a report titled “Blacklisted: 2013-14” found “that while white students experienced a ten-year low in suspensions during the 2013-2014 school year, the combined suspension rate for Hispanic, black and Native American students was at its highest level.” The fact that white rates decreased while minority rates increased, if true, would indicate that there occurred something other than an overall decrease in discipline rates of the type that would commonly increase relative differences in discipline rates while reducing relative differences in rates of avoiding discipline. The actual report reveals, however, that what the press release discusses as change in rates was actually a change in the proportions the various groups made up of persons discipline. A decrease in the proportion less susceptible groups make of persons experiencing the outcome and an increase in the proportion more susceptible groups make up of persons experiencing the outcome is the usual consequence of a general reduction in discipline rates (as illustrated for example in Table 1 (at 11) of my letter to the American Statistical Association (Oct. 8, 2015). See also the June 29, 2016 American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island press release titled “ACLU Applauds New Law Restricting School Suspension Use,” While discussing that stringent discipline policies particularly impact disadvantaged groups, the release reflects no understanding that restricting suspensions will increase the racial differences in suspensions as measured by the ACLU.
The conflations of the rates at which groups experiencing an outcome with the proportions the groups comprise of persons experiencing the outcome is also the subject of the Journalists and Statistics subpage of the Vignettes page of jpscanlan.com. The Rhode Island ACLU study adds an interesting element to the confusion. For if some adverse outcome rate for a Group A has reached its lowest point in history while the outcome rate for Group B has reached its highest point in history, something of consequence must be at work. But, assuming there are just two groups and putting aside issue of changes in the proportion the groups comprise of the population, if the proportion Group A comprises of persons experiencing the outcome reaches its lowest point in history, the proportion Group B comprises of persons experiencing the outcome will necessarily be at its highest point in history.
On June 4, 2013, the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union released a report finding that black and Hispanic students in the state’s public schools are much more likely to be suspended than white students.The report, titled “Blacklisted: Racial Bias in School Suspensions in Rhode Island,” examines suspension patterns since the state attempted to respond to a 2001 Providence Journal series on racial differences in suspension rates.The report recommends generally reducing discipline rates.
One can derive from Tables 4-A, 5-A, and 6-A, the following information about the way general reductions in discipline rates were accompanied by increased racial differences in discipline rates.
Between the 2004-05 and the 2011-12 school years, the number of suspensions for offenses deemed “subjective” declined from 11,981 to 9,133.During that period the ratio of the black suspension rate to the white suspension rates rose from 3.69 to 3.75.
Between the 2004-05 and the 2011-12 school years, the number of suspensions for offenses deemed “concrete” declined from 17,964 to 12,715.During that period the ratio of the black suspension rate to the white suspension rates rose from 2.23 to 2.55.
The pertinent tables show the proportion each racial group comprises of students and the proportion each racial group comprises of suspended students.The ratio is ((black proportion of suspension)/(black proportion of population)(/((white proportion of suspensions)/(white proportion of students)).