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Volume 27, Issue 1 (1998)

Compiling School-Base Rates for Disruptive Behaviors From Student Disciplinary Referral Data

pp. 848—857

Abstract: Teacher-completed incident reports are commonly generated at most public schools when a student is sent to the principal’s office for disciplinary reasons, resulting in an archival record of student office referrals. Incident reports offer several advantages for compiling base rates of disruptive behaviors: They use a standardized format for data collection, are usually completed close to the time of the student’s behavioral infraction,and contain teacher-reported information about student behavior that can easily be compiled into building base rates. However, disciplinary reports can reflect teacher bias in recording student behaviors, differing levels of teacher tolerance of disruptive student behaviors,and the absence of independent, objective verification of disruptive student behaviors. An extended case study is provided in which student disciplinary office referrals are analyzed across a 3-year period at two elementary schools in an urban school district. The results of the analysis indicate both a stable rate of disciplinary referral of student subgroups in both schools across school years and a high and stable rate of recidivism, or re-referral, for individual students within a school year. Information from the case example suggests that,despite their limitations, disciplinary referrals can be compiled into a database that provides the school consultant with useful information about emerging patterns of difficulty in student-teacher interactions.

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