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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #16-5
January 13, 2016
Contact: Peter Tira
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Decline in Suspensions and Expulsions for Third Year in a Row

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced a 13.9 percent decline in the number of students expelled during the 2014-15 academic year and a 12.8 percent decrease in the number of students suspended compared to the year before. This marks the third year in a row of significant declines in both areas.

Since 2011-12, when the California Department of Education (CDE) began collecting and reporting detailed data, suspensions have declined by 33.6 percent and expulsions have dropped 40.4 percent.

The latest figures reflect innovative efforts by the CDE and school districts to provide a variety of alternative programs and options to schools, teachers, and students that reduce suspensions and expulsions and keep more children in school.

"The research and data are abundantly clear in this area: Removing children from school and keeping them away from an educational environment can be very harmful," Torlakson said. "This continuing decline in suspensions and expulsions is a tremendous credit to CDE staff, local districts, administrators, teachers, and parents who are all working together to develop effective solutions to increase school attendance and learning."

Statewide, 919 fewer students were expelled in 2014-15 compared to the year before, down 13.9 percent. Similarly, 35,780 fewer students were suspended in 2014-15, down 12.8 percent. The statewide suspension rate has dropped to 3.8 percent from 4.4 percent the year before while the expulsion rate has remained flat at 0.1 percent because the overall numbers are relatively small (Table 1).

Several factors contributed to the years-long declines, beginning with improved CDE data collection and reporting in 2011-12 that revealed high numbers of expulsions and suspensions statewide, particularly among African-American students. The CDE initiated forums and workshops to make districts, administrators, and teachers aware of successful alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, including "restorative justice" programs that help students understand the nature and consequences of their actions. Other strategies underway in California schools include teaching life skills and emotional control. The CDE launched its Behavioral Intervention Strategies and Supports Web page as an additional resource.

For the third year in a row, the highest percentage of declines came under the "willful defiance" category. In 2014-15, there were 164 fewer expulsions for defiance-related offenses, down 57.3 percent. There were 58,103 fewer defiance-related suspensions last year, down 30.9 percent (Table 1).

Willful defiance became an issue after CDE data revealed that students in certain ethnic groups experienced a disproportionate percentage of expulsions and suspensions. Lawmakers sought to reduce those offenses and passed Assembly Bill 420, supported by the CDE and signed into law in 2013, that limits suspensions and expulsions for disruptive behavior in certain grades.

Expulsions and suspensions for more serious federal offenses were down by thousands statewide and among every subgroup of students in 2014-15. Yet a disparity persists among African-American students. For example, African-American students represent 6 percent of total statewide enrollment but make up a 16.4 percent of students suspended, a rate identical to last year. White students represent 24.6 percent of total enrollment, but make up 20.9 percent of those suspended. Hispanic students account for 53.6 percent of total enrollment and represent 54 percent of those suspended (Tables 2, 3).

Data collected through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) enabled the CDE to report detailed data for the fourth year in a row. Prior to the collection of these data, they were collected differently as aggregate counts, so the 2014-15 data may only be compared to the three prior years and cannot be compared accurately to prior years’ suspension and expulsion data. The data presented here were for "unduplicated" counts of students suspended or expelled. This means although a student may have been suspended or expelled more than once, each student was only counted once.

The suspension and expulsion data are available on the CDE's DataQuest. Downloadable data files are available at the CDE's Expulsion and Suspension Data Web page. Truancy data are collected through the California Basic Educational Data System Online Reporting Application and will be updated online this week.

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Attachments:

Table 1: 2014-15 Suspension and Expulsion Statewide Summary

Type

2013-14

2014-15

Difference

% Difference

Students Suspended

279,383

243,603

-35,780

-12.8%

Students Expelled

6,611

5,692

-919

-13.9%

Defiance Expulsions

286

122

-164

-57.3%

Defiance Suspensions

187,938

129,835

-58,103

-30.9%

Table 2: Statewide Suspension Counts by Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity

2013-14

2014-15

Difference

% Change

Hispanic or Latino of Any Race

152,726

131,463

-21,263

-13.9%

American Indian or Alaska Native, Not Hispanic

3,427

2,901

-526

-15.3%

Asian, Not Hispanic

6,644

5,863

-781

-11.8%

Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic

1,764

1,584

-180

-10.2%

Filipino, Not Hispanic

2,685

2,475

-210

-7.8%

African American, Not Hispanic

45,710

40,039

-5,671

-12.4%

White, Not Hispanic

57,507

50,844

-6,663

-11.6%

Two or More Races, Not Hispanic

7,347

6,905

-442

-6.0%

None Reported

1,573

1,526

-44

-2.8%

Total

279,383

243,603

-35,780

-12.8%

Table 3: Percent of Statewide Suspensions and Enrollment by Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity

2013-14

2014-15

Percentage
Change

Percent Enrollment

Hispanic or Latino of Any Race

54.7%

54.0%

-0.7%

53.6%

American Indian or Alaska Native, Not Hispanic

1.2%

1.2%

0.0%

0.6%

Asian, Not Hispanic

2.4%

2.4%

0.0%

8.8%

Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic

0.6%

0.7%

+0.1%

0.5%

Filipino, Not Hispanic

1.0%

1.0%

0.0%

2.5%

African American, Not Hispanic

16.4%

16.4%

+0.0%

6.0%

White, Not Hispanic

20.6%

20.9%

-0.3%

24.6%

Two or More Races, Not Hispanic

2.6%

2.8%

+0.2%

2.8%

None Reported

0.6%

0.6%

0.0%

0.6%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

n/a

100.0%

Table 4: Percentage Decline in Statewide Suspensions and Expulsions
from 2011-12 to 2014-15

Type

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

(N) Decline
11-12 to 14-15

% Decline
11-12 to 14-15

Suspensions

366,629

329,370

279,383

243,603

-123,026

-33.56%

Expulsions

9,553

8,266

6,611

5,692

-3,861

-40.42%

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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