While the average suspension rate was 11.2% in 2006 in the middle schools surveyed, disaggregating the data by race and gender reveals great disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension. For example, for middle school Blacks, 28.3% of males and 18% of females were suspended. This 10-point difference in suspension rates by gender for Black students was the largest of any racial group, but all racial/ethnic groups showed large internal differences by gender. Even greater disparities existed between racial groups when comparing suspension rates by race and gender: there was a 26.2 percentage point difference between the suspension rates of Asian American/Pacific Islander females (2.1%) and Black males.
To provide closer analysis of middle school suspension rates at the district and school level, this report focused on 18 of the nation’s largest school districts. Table 1 disaggregates the risk index for these 18 districts by race and gender, showing the subgroups experiencing the highest and lowest suspension rates.
When disaggregated by race and gender, the data clearly show that certain subgroups are consistently at higher risk for out-of-school suspension. For example, based on the survey data for 2006-2007, the district-wide middle school suspension rate across the 18 districts was 22.2%. In 11 of the 18 districts, the data reveal that over one in three Black males was suspended. In Palm Beach County and Milwaukee, the district-wide middle school suspension rate for Black males exceeded 50%. The suspension rate for Black females exceeded 50% in Milwaukee and was over 33% in Palm Beach County, Indianapolis, and Des Moines. Among the 18 districts reviewed, Hispanic males exceeded the 33% mark only in Milwaukee. The range of suspension rates was also quite wide, from 53% for Black males in Palm Beach County to 0% for Latino females in Baltimore County.
School Level Results
When the data from the 18 districts was analyzed at the individual school level, we found that rates of suspension were far higher in some schools than in others. Most of the districts had several schools that suspended more than 50% of a given racial/gender group. While high suspension rates for Black males and females were common across these districts, we also found instances of schools that suspended more than 50% of White and Hispanic females.
The school-level data shows that middle schools with extraordinarily high suspension rates are not uncommon. The graph represents the total number of middle schools in the 18 districts that have suspension rates of over 33% for various subgroups.
Of the 175 schools suspending more than 33% of the Black males enrolled, 84 were suspending Black males at a rate of at least 50%. The 50% mark was also met or exceeded by 31 schools for Black Females, 13 schools for Hispanic males; 2 schools for Hispanic females; 22 schools for White males and 18 schools for White Females.
Trends Over Time
In addition to examining the current middle school suspension rates, we also looked at trends in suspension over time by district. Data were reviewed from both the 2002 and 2006 CRDC for each of the 18 districts. During that time period, suspension rates rose in 12 of the 18 districts, remained the same in two others, and decreased in 4 districts. The average increase in out-of-school suspension rate per district was 2.3 percentage points for all students.
Further disaggregating these data by race and gender shows that the 2.3 percentage point increase was not evenly distributed across gender and racial groups. As the graph at right shows, the per-district average increase was greatest for Black females (5.3 percentage points), followed by Black males (1.7 percentage points).