A recent blog post at EdWeek by Sarah Sparks points to a new research study, to be published in the January 2013 issue of the Sociology of Education, which demonstrates a link between teenage arrests and school pushout:
While 64 percent of Chicago students who were never arrested eventually earned a high school diploma, the graduation rate for students who had been arrested was only 26 percent. Similarly, only 16 percent of students with an arrest record eventually enrolled in a four-year colleges, compared with 35 percent of students with a diploma or GED who avoided the legal system. Arrested students were also more likely to have missed school, failed a grade, or been identified for special education, even though the researchers found little difference in the IQ of students arrested and not.
The case against zero tolerance policies grows, and I note this because restorative practices continues to offer an alternative approach to keeping kids in school and not stigmatizing them. Sparks quotes report co-author David S. Kirk, an associate sociology professor: "Though they might not even be conscious of it, teachers and advisers tend to think of arrested teens as 'problem students,' and focus more of their time on the students with promising futures while alienating problem students."
Sparks also writes:
Kirk and co-author Robert J. Sampson, a social sciences professor at Harvard university in Cambridge, Mass., disentangled students' arrest history from the load of other dropout risk factors—poverty, a minority background, school disengagement, and so on. Using individual student longitudinal data from local and national education and criminal databases in Chicago, the researchers tracked cohorts of 12-year-olds and 15-year-olds from 1990 to 2005, cross-referencing enrollment and dropout data with student arrests between 1995 and 2001.