The Highest Suspension Rate Districts in New York State
David Wiles, University at Albany
EAPS 760: Seminar in Educational Management
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The following material was developed for a course in educational management taught Fall 1996 semester for the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies. The course is an experimental distance learning effort involving cohorts of doctoral students located in Albany and Oswego New York. The syllabus, class list and other web referenced exercises can be found at the Eaps 760 web site.

This is the second web based course created by the instructor. In the Spring of 1996 an advanced course on educational politics was developed and presented to sixteen post masters students. These course materials, including the syllabus and student reports presented can be found at the Eaps 745 web site.

The information presented below are taken from the official report of the New York State Education Department for the 1994-1995 academic year. Thanks to the rapid development of technology access in New York State those interested in reviewing the performance of their district or verifying the figures presented here can access the New York State Education Department directly.

All districts with annual suspension rates above 9.5 percent in 1994-1995 are reported. In 1993-1994 the statewide suspension rate for all 700+ public school districts was 4.5 percent. New York City district reported 3.2 percent suspension for that year. The official definition of suspension is : The number of students in grades k-12 who were suspended from school at least one full day during the 1994-1995 school year divided by the total district enrollment, expressed as a percentage.

The Suspension Exercise Argument

Suspension involves a custodial and control policy focus, usually thought of in terms of average daily attendance rates and to a lesser extent secondary dropout rates. As a proxy for the internal management and operations of the schools in New York districts, jurisdictions with suspension rates approaching or exceeding ten percent of all the students in school may have a distinctive character. Such a characteristic may have direct policy implications for the implementation of educational reform efforts, such as the all Regents secondary refrom initiative.

Before comparing high suspending districts with low suspension districts, or seeing if the 1994-1995 districts are the same as previous years, we must profile the initial set of jurisdictions. We do this in such a way to frame alternative hypotheses about the reason(s) for high suspensions. For example, it could be argued suspension is a more a function of overall enrollment size or racial composition of the student body than a strict management problem. Alternatively, it could be stated that Regents achievement is unrelated to the suspension rate, so there needs to be a consideration of that possibility. In the table below, the district suspension rate for 1994-1995 is provided with the following measures.

Of course, the descriptive profile created for the set of high suspending districts will only be the "first cut" in framing policy reasons. Jacob Viner (cited in Tufte, 1974, page l48) described the methodological process best: "The 'first approximation' would be a listing of variables known or believed to be or suspected to be of substantial significance and a corresponding listing of types and directions of interrelationships between those variables. A second stage of analysis would consist of combing out the probably least significant variables and interrelationships. Instead of beginning with rigor and elegance, only from this second stage would these become legitimate goals...."

With management issues and implementing state wide reforms you must start with the cards dealt and work back (or "backward map") systematically to the meaning of operating system. For example, the learning standards for Mathematics, Science and Technology (March 1996 revision) set a wonderful table for discussion and the mandate for an all Regents Comprehensive English starting Fall 1996 is quite specific enough to not make mistakes in interpreting expectations. Yet, the pragmatics of operational success depend upon the description of school organizations as they now perform. The Jacob Viner counsel on appropriate method to make sense of system may be seen as too "sloppy" for some but the Eaps 760 prejudice is congruent with his conclusion; " The final outcome of such a change in analytic procedure might well be a definite loss in rigor and elegance of design but a definite gain in scope for the useful exploitation of new information."(in Tufte, op cit. page 149).

The Suspension Exercise Assignment

Your task is to construct a policy description of New York districts with high suspension rates during 1994-1995 academic year. First, describe the relationship of suspension to attendance and dropout. Second, describe suspension to enrollment and percent of white pupils. Third, describe suspension to Regents diploma production.

On the basis of your description what can you speculate about suspension as a management concern, an "urban" or "remote rural" issue? On the basis of the speculation what other measures might be helpful in profiling the set of districts further? For example, a management premise might lead to more information on school board, administrator, teacher and guidance personnel, while an "environmental" premise might lead more toward additional cost and census based sociological data.

From your findings describe how you would set up a methdological approach to compare high suspension districts with low or no suspension (e.g. New York City as a special case standard or one of the low group?) jurisdictions. From your findings argue why such comparison could be valuable knowledge for those implementing an all Regents Comprehensive English initiative.

Finally, county identification is not provided because the primary purpose of the exercise was to identify and describe a particular set of districts. The order of identification, however, did follow the county classification. Albany district, for example, is in Albany county while the last district listed, Yonkers, is in Westchester county. You may check the State Education Department for the county reference of any New York district. The State wide averages and New York City data are added as reference points to the suspension discussion.

The Suspension Dataset
DISTRICT 94/5 Susp. Attend Drop Enroll %White% Reg Dip
Statewide4. Mil+5840
The Big Apple Mil+1720
Albany 13.8 89.5 3.6 9161 37.033.5
Cohoes12.1 93.8 2.2 2172 96.3 38.8
Friendship12.7 94.80.7 470 97.640.0
Cassadaga Val12.6 94.4 3.5 148298.8 53.8
Forestville 11.7 95.6 00710 96.2 94.4
Hudson 10.2 93.9 5.3248476.228.2
Beacon15.9 92.68.13014 61.6 33.3
Poughkeepsie 13.6 90.1 8.2 3869 36.5 33.3
Cheek-Maryvale 11.7 94.8 5.3 241497.836.5
VanHornesville 9.595.11.227998.643.8
Indian River12.5 94.83.93635 73.630.1
Rochester 12.8 88.4 8.3 34881 21.8 18.4
Fort Plain 18.9 95.2 9.3 1033 97.851.6
Freeport10.4 94.92.2 6480 25.739.9
Lawrence20.2 94.00.33734 70.357.1
Long Beach9.9 91.4 1.2429663.540.3
Malverne16.4 93.60.6 2360 38.233.3
Oyster Bay13.094.50.5 1398 83.6 57.9
Roosevelt15.4 92.3 2.9 2833 0.8 0.9
Niagara Falls12.692.5 2.7 8883 65.7 25.9
Utica 10.992.211.2 8172 63.732.3
Syracuse 13.890.9 5.1 22680 53.0 27.5
Port Jervis11.792.07.3350392.0 44.7
Altmar Parrish12.493.68.9 1869 98.8 31.3
DISTRICT 94/5 Susp. Attend Drop Enroll %White% Reg Dip
Lansingburgh 9.894.1 1.32345 92.026.4
East Ramapo 9.692.81.2 8809 36.143.3
Schenectday 14.590.85.9 808766.2 32.5
Amityville15.691.54.6 2872 20.4 56.4
Brentwood10.291.6 3.6 1257533.127.3
Central Islip13.892.33.3521329.5 19.7
Eastport14.2 93.7 0.7 875 97.9 40.9
Hampton Bays 13.4 94.8 00 137184.1 22.2
Riverhead13.1 93.1 4.7 4147 64.5 45.9
Southhampton11.0 95.0 2.0 1486 73.6 42.6
William Floyd9.6 92.54.49510 86.047.5
Wyandach 14.690.0 1.0 2191 0.4 3.0
Monticello12.793.44.8 3555 67.7 36.6
Newark Valley 9.993.84.3 170498.7 52.4
Ithaca 10.394.510.7 6147 80.8 63.3
Ellenville12.2 92.5 3.7 2002 69.831.9
Saugerties9.6 94.1 3.03378 84.4 44.4
Wallkill11.594.1 4.0324687.2 47.9
Glen Falls14.594.4 1.4 2875 96.5 45.2
Elmsford 11.393.7 0.5669 24.2 36.2
Mount Vernon 14.591.0 1.1 9822 12.914.7
Pleasantville 16.2 96.300 1364 92.2 35.4
Yonkers 12.787.63.5 2098727.3 16.6

Option Generating Extra: What do the highest suspension districts, Fort Plain(18.9), Lawrence (20.2) and Pleasantville(16.2), have in common that might rationalize strong custodial/control needs or high academic expectations state wide?

Topic Expansion Extra: What argument can be made to discuss the Small City School District classification as a distinctive measure related to high suspension practices among the forty seven New York jurisdictions?

Topic Expansion Extra: Why would New York City and Buffalo districts have suspension rates under four percent when Syracuse, Rochester and Yonker districts exceed twelve percent?

Option Generating Extra: What did the following nineteen New York districts do to reduce their 1993-1994 suspension from above 9.5 percent to less than the "high" threshold in 1994-1995?

DISTRICT 93/4 Susp. Attend Drop Enroll %White% Reg Dip
Jamestown 9.593.96.0583788.553.8
Elmira10.1 93.9 3.8 8488 87.944.8
George- Ostelic 9.594.1 3.0 498 98.2 41.9
Downsville12.1 92.6 3.934999.1 30.0
Uniondale10.294.8 3.14826 7.516.6
North Syracuse 9.5 94.9 4.99719 95.5 43.2
Onondaga10.4 95.61.4105793.735.4
Geneva9.7 93.6 4.62441 76.850.0
Highland Falls 10.0 93.02.31043 81.848.8
Norwood-Norf 10.594.5 2.7128498.843.1
Corning9.694.4 5.05529 95.850.9
Central Morchies 11.7 94.2 0.31129 78.5 35.3
Copique 10.3 92.2 2.4 3944 48.534.1
Fallsburgh 10.592.02.5 1367 67.4 38.7
Livingston Man 11.1 93.0 9.7 735 85.3 41.6
Newfield11.7 94.7 4.41016 97.037.5
Greenburgh11.6 93.74.0 196733.336.8