203685 Multilevel exploration of factors contributing to the overrepresentation of African American students in office disciplinary referrals

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mary Mitchell, PhD , Behavioral and Social Health Outcomes Program, US Army Insitute of Public Health, Aberdeen, MD
Catherine Bradshaw, PhD , Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Philip J. Leaf, PhD , Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Disruptive behavior problems in the classroom have been associated with attendance problems, substance abuse, and later school failure. Frequently, students who exhibit behavior problems in the classroom receive disciplinary actions such as being referred to the principal's office, which can limit the opportunity for learning. Although there is increasing awareness of the overrepresentation of ethic minority students - particularly African Americans - in disciplinary actions, the extant research has rarely empirically examined potential factors which may contribute to these disparities. The current study used a multilevel modeling approach to examine factors at the child (e.g., teacher-rated disruptive behavior problems) and classroom/teacher levels (e.g., teacher ethnicity) which may contribute to the over-representation of minority students in office disciplinary referrals (ODRs). Data come from 6,888 African American and White children in 381 classrooms at 21 elementary schools. The logistic regression analyses indicated that even after controlling for the students' levels of teacher-rated behavior problems and other classroom factors, African American students were significantly more likely than non-African American students to receive ODRs. Since these data suggest that race/ethnicity plays an important role in the assignment of ODRs, professional development on culturally sensitive practices may be warranted. Specifically, creating awareness of ethnic disparities along with enhancing classroom management strategies among teachers could in turn improve student behavior and retention in the classroom.

Learning Objectives:
Describe ethnic/racial disparities in office disclipline referrals and the subsequent impact of referrals on adolescent health behavior.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on the analysis and writing of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.