Research Project

What Drives Racial/Ethnic Disparities in School Discipline? Understanding Mechanisms to Inform Policy Solutions

In May 2020, PSTC Sociologist Jayanti Owens was named a William T. Grant Scholar, an award for promising early-career scholars that provides $350,000 over five years for research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods. Research shows that racial differences in student behaviors account for only a small share of racial/ethnic differences in school discipline. In her Scholars project, Owens will investigate the extent to which such gaps are shaped by: 1) the kinds of schools students attend, 2) perceptions of how students of color behave, and 3) differential sanctions and supports for students of color. She will also examine how participation in a professional development intervention changes teachers’ beliefs about the sources of discipline disparities at their school and whether it makes a difference for their subsequent decisions about how to discipline students.