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4.2: Issues Related to Student Behavior in the Secondary School

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    As suggested earlier, a common misconception of these strictly punitive methods are that they may serve as a deterrent to other students, and minimize re-occurrence of the behavior. However, there is little data to support these assertions, and more to suggest they do more harm than good (USDOE, 2016). For example, studies have shown that disciplinary exclusions can lead to juvenile justice involvement and academic failure (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013; Hemphill, Toumbourou, Herrenkohl, McMorris, & Catalano, 2006). Additionally, coercive disciplinary practices (e.g., corporal punishment) can lead to higher rates of mental health related issues, substance abuse, and the carryover of these practices to subsequent parenting (Byford, Abbott, Maughan, Richards, & Kuh, 2014; Smokowski, Bacallao, Cotter, & Evans, 2015).

    The concept of coercive punishment acting as a deterrent may be valid when discussed in light of the 80% of the population who generally obey societal law and convention. Indeed, research suggests that 85 to 90% of students will not display significant behavior problems throughout their schooling. However, for 15 to 20% of the population, these punishment practices provide little in the way of a deterrent and do little to reduce the occurrence of the behavior in the future. For example, remember Timmy?

    Timmy it’s one of the 15 to 20% who would much rather be at home, suspended or not, than in reading class. Therefore, suspending Timmy acts as a reward not as a punishment. So we need to consider whether our discipline practices are only supposed to work for the 80% of students who act right anyways, Or if we should tailor them to the 15- 20% who don’t. After all, the same 15-20% in school are also the people who are not horrified by the prospect of spending time in jail. If we don’t provide services for these students in schools, it is likely that jail is not too far off.

    PBIS to the Rescue!

    Current trends in educational reform are seeing a shift from the utilization of punishment-based behavior management practices, including those that utilize corporal punishment, to those favoring a preventative approach. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997 and again in 2004 specified that in the event a student’s behavior impacts their learning or the learning of those around them, schools should consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBS) to address the behavior. This does not mean that schools can’t use aversive interventions, or those that utilize punishment, only that positive interventions be considered first. Additionally, federal law like the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015) have components written into them that would provide grants to states for implementing measures to improve school climate.

    As discussed in Chapter 2, much of the current work on improving schools utilizes a response to intervention framework (RTI). The behavioral component of RTI works very similar to the academic where Tier 1 involves universal screening and core competencies delivered in the general education classroom. Tier 2 involve more systematic data collection and generally a target intervention delivered in a small group setting. Finally Tier 3 would include individualized instruction or referral to special education. Not coincidentally, the RTI pyramid aligns with the normal curve suggesting that 15 to 20% of students in tier 2 are those lying below two standard deviations below the average. When superimposed (\PageIndex{1}\) over the “normal” curve, we can see the RTI tiers should be looking at the 17% of students following below “average”.

    4.2.1.png
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    The remainder of this chapter will discuss three strategies to support student behavior in the classroom. The strategies discussed include: Check-In Check-Out, Behavior Specific Praise, and Pre-Correction.


    This page titled 4.2: Issues Related to Student Behavior in the Secondary School is shared under a CC BY-ND license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Mickey Losinski (New Prairie Press/Kansas State University Libraries) .

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