Teacher treatment of students factors into racial gap in school suspensions

News from Brown

Elementary schools tend to discipline black students more harshly than white students, leading to a considerable racial gap in expulsion and suspension. That’s among the findings of a new data analysis led by researchers at Brown and Princeton universities.

The analysis found that teachers’ different treatment of black and white students accounted for 46% of the racial gap in suspensions and expulsions from school among 5- to 9-year-old children. It showed that about 21% of the gap could be explained by differences in the characteristics of schools that black and white children attend predominantly, while differences in student behavior accounted for 9% of the gap.

The analysis was co-authored by Jayanti Owens, an assistant professor of sociology at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown, and published in the journal Social Forces.