What Drives Racial/Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline? Understanding Mechanisms to Inform Policy Solutions

Can empowering teachers and school leaders with evidence about the drivers of racial/ethnic disparities in their school improve their school discipline practices and policies?

As research shows that racial differences in student behaviors account for only a small share of racial/ethnic differences in school discipline, Jayanti Owens will investigate the extent to which such gaps are shaped by: 1) the kinds of schools students attend, 2) perceptions of how students of color behave, and 3) differential sanctions and supports for students of color. Owens will also examine how participation in a professional development intervention changes teachers’ beliefs about the sources of discipline disparities at their school and whether it makes a difference for their subsequent decisions about how to discipline students. Trained as a sociologist and social demographer, Owens will meet regularly with mentors Nicole Shelton, Stuart Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, and Dustin Tingley, Professor of Government at Harvard University. Shelton will mentor Owens in the social psychology of intergroup relations. Tingley will mentor Owens in computational text analysis and the development of an educational diagnostic tool to be used in teacher in-service training and professional development.

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