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An Examination of Primary School Students' Office Discipline Referrals

McClay, Erin (2019) An Examination of Primary School Students' Office Discipline Referrals. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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School discipline is a concern at the forefront of educators’ minds. Students and teachers deserve to learn and work in safe environments that are conducive to learning. One common method of school discipline has been to suspend students from school. However, this method is considered highly punitive, ineffective at changing behavior, and counter-productive to academic progress.
The participating elementary school in this descriptive study had the highest rates of suspensions among Kindergarten through third grades of all the elementary schools in the district during the two years prior to this study. Therefore, the purpose of this student was to examine the behavior referrals in these grades over the course of three school years. Specifically, the intention was to identify patterns in the referrals such as referring teacher, location, and infraction types in order to determine the types of evidenced-based interventions identified through the literature review that may be effective at reducing the behaviors and ultimately the rate of suspensions. The results indicated that the most commonly referred behaviors were coded as disruption of school and aggression in the form of assaults and/or fighting. Consequently, further review of potential evidenced-based interventions specifically to target these particular behaviors was conducted.
The results of this study provide a launching point not only for potentially effective interventions but also for areas where professional development opportunities may be needed for teachers in terms of classroom management. Furthermore, because the setting of this research was an urban school that recognizes a significant achievement gap, it would be interesting to analyze the data according to gender, race, and IEP status in order to foster culturally inclusive environments and pedagogical strategies. Finally, future opportunities to expand this research include implementing an evidence-based intervention and tracking the effects of the intervention on the rate of referrals and suspensions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McClay, Erinemcclay1@pghschools.orgelm1130000-0003-4543-6054
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKerr, Mary
Committee MemberBickel,
Committee MemberMcClure,
Committee MemberTrovato,
Committee MemberValenti, Michael
Date: 30 January 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 July 2018
Approval Date: 30 January 2019
Submission Date: 1 January 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 84
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: education, elementary education, school discipline, behavior interventions, behavior support
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2019 22:59
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 22:59


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