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Is Your In-School Suspension a Place or a Program?

The results of an effective ISS program can positively impact students with behavior problems, teachers, and communities. The results of an ineffective ISS program can do reciprocal damage to all those involved.

Student discipline is ranked one of the highest concerns amongst teachers, administrators, and the general public. Disrespect, disruption, insubordination, and violence have become big problems in the schools and directly effect the quality of education for all the students. It has been reported that numerous teachers have trouble dealing with the stress and have chosen to leave the profession (Oliva & Pawlas, 1997). One of the main goals of educators is to make sure every child receives the best education available. In order to obtain this goal, behavioral problems within the school must be addressed and regular classroom teachers need extra support. Implementing an effective in-school suspension program (ISS) into the middle schools is essential for the overall health of the schools, students, teachers, and communities.

Many middle schools address the issues of discipline by using various methods. Severe discipline issues are commonly addressed by using in-school and out of school suspension programs. Suspension is defined as, “a program to which a student is assigned because of disruptive behavior for a specific amount of time” (Sheets, 1996, p. 87). The out of school suspension program requires the students to stay away from the school for a day or periods of days and results in a complete absence(s) from school. The ISS program allows the students to attend school; however, they must remain in a separated classroom and can not have interaction with other students for the period of time that they are in ISS, which may be hours or days. Disruptive behavior is defined by Sheets as:

… behavior that interferes with the students own learning and/or the educational process of others, and requires attention and assistance beyond that which traditional programs can provide or results in frequent conflicts of a disruptive nature while the student is under the jurisdiction of the school, either in or out of the classroom. (87) In terms of an effective ISS program, effective is defined as a program that reduces behavioral problems and increases the overall education of the students.

Historically, the out of school suspension program was developed to remove students who were an immediate threat to other students. Over time, too many students were being removed from school for reasons other than threat, like disrespect and disruption (Morrison & Skiba, 2001). Students began to view out of school suspension as a “free day” off from school. For various reasons, research finds that the out of school suspension method is ineffective and produces little change in behaviors (Sugai & Horner, 1999). In order to address these problems, the in-school suspension program was created. The basic aspect of in-school suspension is that the students are isolated from the rest of the school and students. It ensures that the students will not receive a free “vacation” day from school due to their incompliance.

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  1. Hannah B.

    On September 18, 2008 at 1:09 pm


    Thank you for reinforcing the set up for success for ISS. Is it a Place or a Program is a great word picture!
    School Districts could begin budgeting for the Program for 5 years at a time and reevaluate the effectiveness of the ISS at each school. This doesn’t have to be at every school, but once it is implemented, it maybe difficult not offer it at every school!

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