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Applying theory to racial disparities in disciplinary outcomes

Updated: May 2, 2023


This study aims to close the gap between theory and empirical evidence by examining the contributors to the racial disparities in disciplinary outcomes through theoretical lenses. Our findings indicate that school discipline approaches that predominantly focus on policing minor and subjective behavior may facilitate racial bias in enforcement.


Our results suggest that the racial discipline gap may be the product of the: (a) heightened focus on risk management, (b) cultural and demographic mismatch between the teaching workforce and students, and (c) transmission of dominant values through school discipline policies and practices that are reflective of upper and middle-class norms.

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