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Examining disproportionality in school discipline practices for students with Aboriginal status in Canadian… Greflund, Sara 2013

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EXAMINING DISPROPORTIONALITY IN SCHOOL DISCIPLINE PRACTICES FOR STUDENTS WITH ABORIGINAL STATUS IN CANADIAN SCHOOLS IMPLEMENTING PBIS  by Sara Greflund A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (School Psychology)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  July 2013  © Sara Greflund, 2013  Abstract The purpose of the study was to investigate the extent to which students with Aboriginal status receive disproportionate levels of Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs) and more severe administrative consequences relative to students without Aboriginal status. The participants were all 1,750 students in five rural British Columbia and Alberta elementary and middle schools implementing PBIS. Binary multilevel logistic regression was used to determine to what extent disproportionality was present. Contrary to hypotheses, students with Aboriginal status were no more likely to receive ODRs than students without Aboriginal status. Students with Aboriginal status were more likely, but not statistically significantly more likely, to receive suspensions and harsh administrative consequences from ODRs. In addition, students with Aboriginal status were more likely, and statistically significantly more likely to receive other or unknown administrative consequences. Potential factors for these findings include the small sample, the Canadian educational context, and implementation of PBIS in participating schools.  ii  Preface A version of this manuscript was presented at the Closing the School Discipline Gap Conference, hosted by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project in Washington DC, January 2013. Sara Greflund and Kent McIntosh worked in collaboration in designing and completing the research project. Sterett Mercer lent his statistical expertise on the method and data analysis sections. Seth May retrieved archival data from the School-Wide Information System (SWIS). This study was approved by UBC’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board, certificate number H08-03069 and was supported in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (F09-05052).  iii  Table of Contents Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... ii Preface............................................................................................................................................ iii Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................... iv List of Tables ...................................................................................................................................v Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................ vi 1 Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Disparities in School Outcomes for Students with Aboriginal Status .................................. 1 1.2 Potential Disparities in School Discipline Practices ............................................................. 3 1.3 Potential Causes of Disproportionality in School Discipline for Aboriginal Students ......... 5 1.3.1 Intergenerational trauma of residential school and loss of cultural identity .................. 5 1.3.2 Socio-economic Status (SES) ........................................................................................ 6 1.3.3 Cultural Bias .................................................................................................................. 7 1.4 PBIS as a Potential Remedy for Reducing Disproportionality ............................................. 9 1.5 Gaps in the Literature.......................................................................................................... 11 1.6 The Purpose of the Current Study....................................................................................... 11 2 Method ....................................................................................................................................... 13 2.1 Participants and Settings ..................................................................................................... 13 2.2.1 ODRs............................................................................................................................ 15 2.2.2 Subjective ODRs .......................................................................................................... 16 2.2.3 Suspensions .................................................................................................................. 17 2.2.4 Severity of administrative consequences ..................................................................... 17 2.3 Procedure ............................................................................................................................ 18 2.4 Data Analysis ...................................................................................................................... 18 3 Results ........................................................................................................................................ 21 3.1 ODRs................................................................................................................................... 21 3.2 Subjective ODRs ................................................................................................................. 23 3.3 Suspensions ......................................................................................................................... 23 3.4 Administrative Consequences ............................................................................................. 24 3.4.1 Harsh administrative consequences ............................................................................. 24 3.4.2 Other and unknown administrative consequences ....................................................... 27 4 Discussion .................................................................................................................................. 29 4.1 ODRs................................................................................................................................... 29 4.2 Administrative Consequences ............................................................................................. 30 4.3 Disproportionality in School Discipline Practices in Canada ............................................. 31 4.4 Limitations .......................................................................................................................... 34 4.5 Implications for Future Research ........................................................................................ 35 4.6 Implications for Practice ..................................................................................................... 36 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................. 38 Appendix ....................................................................................................................................... 47 Expert Panel Survey .................................................................................................................. 47 iv  List of Tables Table 1. Number and percentage of ODRs, subjective ODRs and suspensions by Aboriginal status and school ........................................................................................................................... 22 Table 2. Results of prediction of ODRs, subjective ODRs, and suspensions ............................... 23 Table 3. Number and percentage of harsh and other or unknown administrative consequences by Aboriginal status, gender, and grade............................................................................................. 26 Table 4. Results of prediction of harsh and other and unknown administrative consequences by Aboriginal status, gender, and grade............................................................................................. 27  v  Acknowledgements I would like to thank Kent McIntosh for his support and commitment throughout this research project. Thanks to Sterett Mercer who’s expertise was essential to both the method and data analysis sections. I would like to extend my appreciation the Stó:lō Nation and the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre for approving our research project. I am grateful to my colleagues Christina, Mary, and Sophie who have offered me endless support throughout my Masters degree. Finally, a whole hearted thanks to my parents, sisters, Roz, and Tim who have always encouraged and believed in me.  vi  1 Introduction In Canada, it has long been acknowledged that individuals with Aboriginal status (i.e., those who self-identify as having Aboriginal ancestry, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit heritage, Ministry of Education, n.d.) experience significant disparities in health, socio-economic status and employment outcomes (Department of Justice Canada, 2004; Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, 2008; Ministry of Child and Family Development, 2009; Office of the Provincial Health Officer, 2007). Individuals with Aboriginal status are at greater risk for infant mortality, teenage pregnancy, youth suicide, childhood obesity, diabetes, and substance abuse (Office of the Provincial Health Officer, 2007). Moreover, a higher proportion of Aboriginal families live below the Low-Income Cut-Off (LICO). In 2005, the average annual income for Aboriginal households was $23,888, which is significantly lower than the average income of $35,872 for Non-Aboriginal households (Library of Parliament, 2009). Children with Aboriginal status are 12 times more likely to be in custody of the government, and youth aged 12-17 are 8 times more likely to be incarcerated (Department of Justice Canada, 2004; Ministry of Child and Family Development, 2009). 1.1 Disparities in School Outcomes for Students with Aboriginal Status Students with Aboriginal status also experience significant disparities in their academic achievement compared to students without Aboriginal status. According to a recent report published by the British Columbia Ministry of Education (2012), students with Aboriginal status scored lower than students without Aboriginal status in all three domains (reading comprehension, writing, and numeracy) of the Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA) in Grades 4 and 7. In the 2010-2011 academic year, 47% of Grade 4 students with Aboriginal status met reading comprehension expectations, compared to 58% of Grade 4 students without Aboriginal  1  status. In writing, 52% of Grade 4 students with Aboriginal status met expectations, compared to 68% of students without Aboriginal status. In numeracy, 43% of Grade 4 students with Aboriginal students met expectations, compared to 57% of students without Aboriginal status. These same patterns were repeated among Grade 7 students. In 2010-2011, the percent of students graduating from secondary school within 6 years was 54% for Aboriginal students, compared to 83% of students without Aboriginal status (Ministry of Education, 2012). Furthermore, students with Aboriginal status in Grade 12 were twice as likely as students without Aboriginal status to require one or more additional years to complete high school (Fraser Institute, 2011). The Assembly of First Nations reported that the national dropout rate for Aboriginal students is over 50% and has been this high since 1972 (Assembly of First Nations, 2010). This statistic is concerning because high school dropouts of any ethnicity will be more likely to have difficulty finding work and if successful, will have jobs with fewer benefits and lower job quality (Statistics Canada, 2010). In addition, fewer students with Aboriginal status go on to pursue postsecondary education (Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, 2008). Moreover, there is evidence that supports that students with Aboriginal status are overrepresented in special education populations. Students with Aboriginal status are designated at higher rates for learning disabilities and behavioural disorders compared to students without Aboriginal status (Ministry of Education, 2012). McBride and McKee (2001) reported that students with Aboriginal status are almost four times more likely to receive a diagnosis of a severe behaviour disorder than students without Aboriginal status.  2  1.2 Potential Disparities in School Discipline Practices A potential source of disproportionate educational outcomes is school discipline practices. In school, inappropriate or disruptive student behaviour can result in referral to the principal’s office and in more serious cases can lead to suspension. Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs) and suspensions serve as temporary and reactive solutions to student problem behaviour (Tidwell, Flannery, & Lewis-Palmer, 2003). Although initial ODRs may identify a student for needed support, regular receipt of ODRs by students results in limited access to classroom instruction, including any preventative behaviour interventions (Levy & Chard, 2001; Scott & Barrett, 2004), and can lead to harmful long term outcomes for students (Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010). Tobin and Sugai (1996) found that the frequency of ODRs predicted suspensions, and the number of suspensions predicted school failure. Suspension creates a negative cycle in which students who are chronically suspended lose valuable instructional time in the classroom and experience decreased feelings of school belonging (Catalano, Oesterle, Fleming, & Hawkins, 2004; Townsend, 2000). It is important to note that it is becoming common to issue suspensions for less harmful behaviour, such as noncompliance and disrespect, as opposed to more harmful behaviours, such as bringing a weapon to school (McIntosh, Fisher, Kennedy, Craft, & Morrison, 2012). Raffaele Mendez, Knoff, and Ferron (2002) found that 20% of schools suspensions were for disobedience or insubordination, 13% for disruptive behaviours or fighting, 11% for inappropriate behaviour, 7% for noncompliance and 1% for weapon and drug possession. These findings suggest that harsh or more severe punitive strategies (e.g., suspensions) are often used to discipline less harmful behaviours. Similarly, Skiba, Peterson, and Williams (1997) found that disobedience, disrespect, and fighting were the most common reason for referral, whereas, more serious  3  behavioural infractions, such as weapon possession, vandalism, and fire setting, were the least common. The findings from these two studies indicate that suspensions are being misused in school. Ideally, suspensions are issued sparingly to students and only when they violate a code of conduct, however, it would appear that they are issued more frequently and for less harmful behaviour. The federal government in Canada does not collect and report school discipline data, thus nationally representative data are not available, and to date there have been no published empirical studies of disproportionality for Canadian students with Aboriginal status. However, the differing rates of identification for behaviour disorders indicate that such disparities may exist. Studies in the U.S. examining disproportionality for American Indian students have yielded mixed results (Gregory et al., 2010; Skiba, Michael, Nardo, & Peterson, 2002). Krezmien, Leone, and Achilles (2006) found that between 1998 and 2003, American Indian students were 1.5 to 1.8 times more likely to be suspended when compared to their Caucasian peers. However, the authors did not find disparities between American Indian and Caucasian students from 1995-1998. Similarly, Wallace, Goodkind, Wallace, and Bachman (2008) found that when they controlled for socio-economic status, male American Indian students were 1.6 times more likely to be referred to the office and 1.7 times more likely to be suspended than male Caucasian students. Furthermore, female American Indian students were 1.7 times more likely to receive an office referral and 2.1 times more likely to be suspended. However, analyses have been hampered by the low prevalence of American Indian students in the U.S. Discipline practices for Canadian students with Aboriginal status may be analogous to patterns seen with African American students in the U.S. African American students experience higher levels of exclusionary school discipline when compared to their Caucasian peers (Skiba et  4  al., 2011). Skiba et al. (2011) examined the number of ODRs issued across different ethnicities in 364 elementary and middle schools. They found that African American students were 2.19 to 3.78 times more likely to be referred to the office than their Caucasian peers. African American elementary students were 1.64 times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions or expulsions for moderate behaviour infractions, and African American middle school students were 1.12 times more likely. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights found that African American males were three times more likely to be suspended than Caucasian males, and African American females were four times more likely to be suspended compared to Caucasian females (Losen, 2011). 1.3 Potential Causes of Disproportionality in School Discipline for Aboriginal Students The research presented in the previous sections provides evidence that students who belong to ethnic minority groups are more likely to receive exclusionary school discipline when compared to Caucasian students. According to Skiba et al. (2002), there is no evidence to indicate that African American students exhibit higher levels of problem behaviour than Caucasian students. These data suggest that contextual factors may play a role in school discipline practices for African American students. It is possible that specific contextual factors contribute to disproportionally negative outcomes for students with Aboriginal status in Canada. An examination of these factors will be discussed below. 1.3.1 Intergenerational trauma of residential school and loss of cultural identity. It is critical to consider the longstanding effects of residential schooling on Aboriginal students and their families. The lasting effects of residential schools have been devastating for the Aboriginal population and have resulted in a loss of culture, identity, and traditional ways of life (Smith, Varcoe, & Edwards, 2005). Many individuals who attended residential schools experienced  5  sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and neglect, received substandard education, and were made to feel ashamed of their Aboriginal heritage (Smith et al., 2005). It is evident that the aftermath of residential schools still affects the Aboriginal population, and as a result, Aboriginal communities continue to experience higher levels of fear and mistrust of school systems (Cummins, 1997; McBride & McKee, 2001). Furthermore, McBride and McKee (2001) found that many Aboriginal people continue to view schools as unwelcoming and as a place that continues to perpetuate institutional racism. In addition, Aboriginal parents often do not feel comfortable advocating for their children’s needs. These factors are likely to directly impact Aboriginal students today. They may feel less school bonding and have lower parental involvement when compared to non-Aboriginal students. 1.3.2 Socio-economic Status (SES). Aboriginal children are regularly noted as the most impoverished group in Canada. In 2005, 27.5% of children with Aboriginal status under the age of 15 were living in low income homes in Canada, compared to 12.9% of children without Aboriginal status (Library of Parliament, 2009). Research indicates that SES can have a disproportionate influence on school discipline practices.Wu, Pink, Crain, and Moles (1982) found that students whose fathers were employed part-time were more likely to be suspended then students whose fathers were employed full-time. They also found that students who attended schools that provided free or reduced lunch programs were more likely to receive school suspensions compared to those without these programs. Similarly, Raffaele Mendez et al. (2002) found that schools with low neighbourhood SES and higher proportion of students from ethnic minorities had higher suspension rates. The results from this study were correlational, therefore it cannot be inferred that the results were causal; however, they do give some indication that SES, ethnicity, and suspensions may be related. Conversely, studies conducted by Wallace  6  et al. (2008) and Skiba et al. (2002) have found that ethnic disparities in school discipline practices still exist when SES is held constant. These findings suggest that SES cannot solely explain racial disparities in school discipline, and further investigation of other contributing factors is necessary. 1.3.3 Cultural Bias. Another factor to consider is the role of cultural bias in issuing ODRs and suspensions. Given that the majority of ODRs are issued within the classroom, it is important to acknowledge that the assignment of ODRs and suspensions can be dependent on the teacher’s experience and strategies for dealing with problem behaviour (McIntosh et al., 2012; Skiba et al., 1997). Furthermore, contextual factors outside of the classroom, such as school climate (e.g., does the school implement positive behaviour supports and interventions) and administrative support, can influence how teachers and administrators deal with difficult behaviour. As discussed previously, a sizeable amount of research has emerged from the U.S. indicating that individuals from minority groups, particularly African Americans, are more likely to receive ODRs and suspensions when compared to Caucasian students (Krezmien et al., 2006; Raffaele Mendez et al., 2002; Skiba et al., 2011; Skiba et al., 2002; Wallace et al., 2008). Furthermore, students who belong minority groups may be more likely to receive school discipline for more subjective behaviours (i.e., an adult used a value judgment to determine the intensity of the behaviour), and they are more likely to receive harsher forms of school discipline. For example, Skiba et al. (2002) found that Caucasian students were more likely to receive ODRs for smoking, vandalism, leaving without permission, and obscene language, whereas African American students were more likely to be referred for disrespect, excessive noise, threat, and loitering, which were considered to be more subjective behaviours. Additionally, the study provided evidence that African American and Caucasian students receive  7  ODRs at different rates. African American students received a disproportionate number of ODRs, and as a result, they also received a higher number of suspensions compared to Caucasian students. Similarly, Shaw and Braden (1990) found that Caucasian students were more likely to be referred for more serious behavioural infractions (e.g., physical assault) when compared to African American students. There is evidence to suggest that students from minority groups might also experience more severe or harsh punishment for similar behaviour infractions when compared to Caucasian students. In a nationally representative study of 436 schools in the U.S. in the 2005-2006 academic year, Skiba et al. (2011) reported that African American students in elementary school were more likely to receive suspensions than Caucasian students. This held true across all types of behaviour, and African American students in elementary schools were almost 4 times more likely to receive a suspension for minor behaviours (e.g., inappropriate language, noncompliance, disruption, physical contact, property misuse). Shaw and Braden (1990) found that the severity of the behavioural infraction did not predict the severity of the consequence (i.e., the likelihood that the student would receive corporal punishment, which was a hit on the buttocks). The authors suggested that teacher bias may have influenced the type of consequence the student received. The findings provide further evidence that African American students receive harsher or more severe consequences (i.e., in or out- of school suspension, and expulsion) than Caucasian students for similar behaviour infractions. In an effort to understand the potential causes of disproportionate discipline for African American students, Fenning and Rose (2007) proposed that teachers and administrators may resort to harsher school disciplinary practices as a preventative measure for classroom management. Teachers and school personal may fear losing control of the classroom if they have  8  non-white students acting out. Therefore, they may resort to removing such students from the classroom before their behaviour can escalate. These conclusions were drawn from their ethnographic study, and they indicate that perceptions of classroom management and a lack of cultural understanding of African American culture may help account for the disproportional number of ODRs and suspensions given to these students. The conclusions of Fenning and Rose (2007) are comparable to those of Townsend (2000). Townsend (2000) stated that teaching staff are a relatively a homogeneous group of professionals and may not be as diverse as the students they teach. The cultural disparities between teachers and their students may result in teachers misinterpreting behaviours. Furthermore, some student behaviours may not be common in the individual teacher’s culture but may be socially acceptable in the student’s culture. For example, teachers might misinterpret common slang words used by African Americans students as disrespectful. Moreover, African American students may communicate in a more emotive and impassioned manner, which may be perceived as argumentative to the teacher. The findings presented in this section provide support that African American students and Caucasian students are referred to the office for different behaviours and that African American students are more likely to receive more severe consequences for similar behavioural infractions. It is likely that cultural bias play a role in the administration of ODRs and suspensions for students with Aboriginal status; however, the degree of disproportionality is still unknown. 1.4 PBIS as a Potential Remedy for Reducing Disproportionality School-wide Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a framework that supports the implementation of evidence-based practices within schools to prevent problem behaviour through instruction and environmental redesign (Sugai & Horner, 2006). It has been  9  implemented in over 18,000 schools in the U.S. (Sugai, 2012, October), and schools in Canada have been implementing PBIS for over 15 years (Chapman & Hofweber, 2000). PBIS has been shown across multiple randomized control trials (conducted at different universities) to reduce levels of problem behaviour, decrease suspensions, and increase academic achievement in U.S. schools (Horner, Sugai, & Anderson, 2010). In addition, there are documented positive effects of PBIS on problem behaviour, suspensions, and achievement in Canada as well (Good, McIntosh, & Gietz, 2011; Kelm & McIntosh, 2012; McIntosh, Bennett, & Price, 2011; McIntosh, Craft, Moniz, Golby, & Steinwand-Deschambeault, 2013). Because of its effectiveness in reducing both problem behaviour and exclusionary discipline, PBIS has been viewed as a potentially effective approach for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in school discipline (McKinney, Bartholomew, & Gray, 2010; Vincent, Randall, Cartledge, Tobin, & Swain-Bradway, 2011). Three potential mechanisms by which PBIS may reduce the use of exclusionary discipline with students with minority status are by a) reducing rates of problem behaviour for all students, minimizing the need for ODRs and suspensions in general, b) providing teachers with strategies for handling misbehaviour without resorting to exclusionary discipline, and c) establishing more objective guidelines for issuing ODRs and administrative consequences, reducing the effect of cultural bias on discipline decision making. However, research findings regarding the effects of PBIS on reducing the discipline gap are mixed. Although research has shown PBIS to reduce ODRs and suspensions for students of all ethnicities (Vincent, Cartledge, May, & Tobin, 2009, October), such reductions have not necessarily decreased the discipline gap. In the U.S., Vincent and Tobin (2011) found that African American students who attended schools that were implementing PBIS continued to receive disproportionally higher rates of school exclusion. As a result, investigating  10  the extent of disproportionality in schools implementing PBIS may provide further insights into its promise as an approach to reduce disparities, both for students with Aboriginal status in Canada and students of American Indian ancestry in the U.S. 1.5 Gaps in the Literature It is evident that students with Aboriginal status face many challenges in school. Despite the apparent needs of these students, there is sparse empirical research on the topic. To develop effective ways to support students with Aboriginal status, more research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of why this group remains disproportionally represented in special education, school dropout, and incarceration. In the U.S., there is a substantial amount of literature showing that African American students are more likely to receive more punitive forms of school discipline, such as being referred to the office or suspended from school when compared to their Caucasian peers. There is evidence indicating that other ethnic groups in the U.S., such as Hispanic and American Indian students, also experience disproportionate representation in ODRs and suspension in schools; however, this evidence is somewhat limited and inconsistent, meriting further investigation (Skiba et al., 2002). In addition, there are to date no published research studies examining disproportionality in school discipline for Aboriginal students in Canada. An examination of school disciplinary practices is the next logical step needed to determine to what extent students with Aboriginal status are disproportionally represented. This knowledge may help inform culturally responsive practices within the school and classroom to support students with Aboriginal status. 1.6 The Purpose of the Current Study The purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent students with Aboriginal status experience disproportional rates of and consequences for school discipline contacts in  11  Canadian schools. Given that students with Aboriginal status are nearly four times more likely to be designated with a serious behaviour disorder, have lower levels of academic achievement, and have lower rates of secondary school completion when compared to students without Aboriginal status (McBride & McKee, 2001; Ministry of Education, 2012), disproportionality in discipline may be a significant contributor. This study will investigate the extent to which students with Aboriginal status receive a disproportionate number of ODRs and suspensions compared to students without Aboriginal status. Furthermore, it will examine the extent to which students are referred for different problem behaviours by Aboriginal status. This study is the first known quantitative study of school discipline for students with Aboriginal and students without Aboriginal status in Canada. The following research questions will be investigated. 1. To what extent do students with Aboriginal status experience a disproportionate number of ODRs compared to students without Aboriginal status in schools implementing PBIS? 2. To what extent do students with Aboriginal status receive more subjective ODRs when compared to students without Aboriginal status in schools implementing PBIS? 3. To what extent do students with Aboriginal status experience a disproportionate number of school suspensions compared to students without Aboriginal status in schools implementing PBIS? 4. To what extent are students with Aboriginal status more likely to receive more severe punitive consequences for similar behavioural infractions when compared to students without Aboriginal status in schools implementing PBIS?  12  2 Method 2.1 Participants and Settings The participants were all 1,750 students in four elementary schools and one middle school in rural regions of Western Canada. Three elementary schools were in a public school district in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and one elementary school and one middle school were in a public school district in central Alberta. Of the total sample, 362 students were identified with Aboriginal status (as identified from school enrollment forms), and the Aboriginal student populations ranged among schools from 14% to 38% per school. Twentyeight percent (n = 487) of the sample attended the middle school (Grades 6 to 8) and 72% (n = 1,263) attended elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 6). The British Columbia school district had an enrollment of 14,003 students. In that district, 16% of the students had Aboriginal status, 4% were English Language Learners, and 3% of students were in French immersion. Furthermore, 3% of students had a learning disability designation, and 2% of students had moderate to severe behaviour designations. The high school completion rate for students with Aboriginal status in the 2010-2011 academic year was 54%, and the rate for students without Aboriginal status was 83%. A total of 20 elementary schools were in the school district. The Alberta school district had an enrollment of 9,850 students. Of these students, 8% had Aboriginal status, 10% of students were enrolled in French Immersion, and 5% were English Language Learners. The high school completion rate for students with Aboriginal status in the 2010-2011 academic year was 47%, and the rate for students without Aboriginal status was 80%. A total of 14 elementary and 3 middle schools (i.e., Grade 6 to 8) were in the school district. All five schools were implementing PBIS prior to the start of this study. PBIS was implemented in response to high rates of problem behaviour and suspensions in the schools. 13  Three of the schools had been implementing PBIS for over 10 years (Andreou & McIntosh, 2013), and two of the schools, including the middle school, had been implementing PBIS for three to four years (Good et al., 2011). Regarding fidelity of implementation of PBIS, the three BC schools were administered the School-wide Evaluation Tool (Sugai, Lewis-Palmer, Todd, & Horner, 2001), a research validated external evaluation of PBIS fidelity of implementation (Horner et al., 2004), during the year of the study. The SET scores showed 78%, 82%, and 83% overall implementation. The two Alberta schools completed the Self-Assessment Survey (Sugai et al., 2001), a research validated self-report fidelity measure, and reported scores of 82% of school-wide features in place (98% in place or partially in place) and 72% in place (96% in place or partially in place), during the 2009-10 school year. Each of the schools had adopted the School-Wide Information System (May et al., 2008) a web application that school personnel use to document incidences of challenging behaviour through Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs). There are over 8,000 schools using SWIS, and it is used in several countries, including Canada, U.S., Norway, Australia, and New Zealand (Educational and Community Supports, n.d.). Measures for the study were derived from SWIS discipline records, including the number and types of problem behaviour incidents recorded for each student and administrative consequences recorded for each specific incident. Incidents and administrative consequences were further categorized with the assistance of an expert panel of four researchers in school discipline, racial disproportionality, and culturally responsive behaviour support. The expert panel rated specific types of problem behaviours as either less subjective or subjective. Additionally, the expert panel rated administrative consequences as either less harsh or harsh. Behaviours and consequences were categorized when there was at least 75% inter-rater  14  agreement. Problem behaviours and administrative consequences that did not meet this criterion were not categorized in the analyses. 2.2.1 ODRs. ODRs are standardized forms used to record incidences of student misbehaviour that occur on school property, in contrast to incident reports, which may be used in more schools but lack the standardization that enhances reliability (Sugai, Sprague, Horner, & Walker, 2000). They are documented by school personnel, who indicate information about the incident (McIntosh et al., 2012). The following data are recorded for each ODR: the student’s name, school district, ethnicity, the number of ODRs, the type of problem behaviour (one of 25 pre-existing types), possible motivation of the behaviour, location of the incident, time of the day, if other students contributed to problem behaviour, and the administrative consequence (one of 15 options). ODRs can result in either minor or major problem behaviours. For this study, only ODRs for major problem behaviours were included in the analyses. ODRs were coded as a dichotomous outcome variable: whether each student received one or more ODRs during the school year. The total number of ODRs received by all students in the school studied was 951. Of these ODRs, 202 (21%) were issued to students with Aboriginal status. There is evidence that ODRs can be used as a valid measure of student externalizing problem behaviour (McIntosh, Campbell, Carter, & Zumbo, 2009). McIntosh et al. (2009) found a moderate correlation (r = .51) between the number of ODRs received and the externalizing composite score on the Behaviour Assessment Scale for Children – Second Edition Teacher Report Scale – Child Form (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004). Furthermore, students who receive higher rates of ODRs are at greater risk for reduced instructional time in the classroom, academic failure, and school suspension (Irvin, Tobin, Sprague, Sugai, & Vincent, 2004; Tobin & Sugai, 1999; Townsend, 2000).  15  Schools that adopt SWIS are required to meet 10 requirements before they can use the system. The school must identify school-wide discipline as one of their top priorities and have access to administrative support to help with the implementation of SWIS. The school must have a standardized referral process, in which challenging behaviours and administrative decisions are operationalized and the school's referral process is consistent with SWIS guidelines. There is a support team who is responsible for reviewing referral data monthly, and the school team must undergo a 90-minute training on SWIS, with at least three individuals receiving a minimum of 2.5 hours of additional training. Schools have a SWIS facilitator to the staff collect and use data to make decisions. ODRs with this level of standardization have been shown to be more reliable and valid than less standardized ODRs (McIntosh et al., 2009). SWIS also allows users to access ethnicity reports to assess disproportionate discipline, although the schools in this study did not access them. 2.2.2 Subjective ODRs. For follow-up analyses, the expert panel rated the 24 problem behaviour types in SWIS as either subjective or less subjective ("other" behaviour was excluded from the expert panel survey). Subjective behaviours were defined as behaviours that require not simply observing a discrete, objective event (e.g., a student smoking), but a significant value judgment regarding whether the intensity or quality of the behaviour warrants an ODR (e.g., a student using inappropriate language). The average inter-rater agreement among the expert panel for all 24 problem behaviours was 90%. The following behaviours were categorized as subjective: abusive language/inappropriate language/profanity, defiance/disrespect/insubordination/non-compliance, harassment/bullying, disruption, dress code violation, and inappropriate display of affection. The following behaviours were categorized as less subjective: physical aggression/fighting, tardy, skipping, truancy, property  16  damage/vandalism, forgery/theft, inappropriate location/out of bounds, use/possession of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, combustibles, weapons, bomb threat/false alarm, and arson. Three problem behaviours did not meet the inter-rater reliability criterion and were also not classified as subjective: lying/cheating, technology violation, and gang affiliation display. The number of subjective ODRs was coded as a dichotomous outcome variable: whether each student received one or more subjective ODRs during the school year. Of the ODRs issued in the study, 63% were categorized as subjective. 2.2.3 Suspensions. Suspensions are a form of school exclusion in which students are removed from school property for a period of time (McIntosh et al., 2012). Suspensions are provided by school administrators in response to serious behaviour infractions (e.g., property destruction, possession of a weapon, or possession of drugs) and moderately correlate with standardized rating scales of problem behaviour (McIntosh et al., 2009). Suspensions included both in and out-of-school suspensions. Suspensions were coded as a dichotomous outcome variable: whether each student received one or more suspensions during the school year. Of the ODRs issued in the study, 77 resulted in administrative consequences that were categorized as suspensions. 2.2.4 Severity of administrative consequences. For the follow-up analyses, the expert panel rated the 13 administrative consequences identified in SWIS as either harsh or less harsh ("other" and "unknown" administrative decisions were omitted from the expert panel survey). Harsh administrative decisions were defined as significantly punitive and may result in pain, humiliation, or removal from the classroom for an extended period of time, with possible detrimental effects on student outcomes. The average inter-rater agreement for the 13 administrative decisions was 85%. Harsh administrative consequences included: bus suspension,  17  in-school suspension, out-of school suspension, and expulsion. Less harsh administrative consequences included: loss of privileges, conference with student, parent contact, restitution, community service, and individualized instruction. Time in office, time out/detention, and Saturday school were not included in the analyses because their categorization did not meet the inter-rater reliability criterion. The administrative consequences were recorded for each ODR and were represented as a dichotomous outcome variable: whether the administrative consequence for each ODR was harsh. In addition, because of the prevalence of administrative consequences recorded as other or unknown, this consequence was used as a third outcome variable. The administrative consequences issued in the study were categorized as follows: 50% less harsh, 12% harsh, and 10% other or unknown. The remaining ODRs were not analyzed in the follow-up analyses because the consequence did not meet the inter-rater reliability criterion. 2.3 Procedure Consent and feedback were obtained from district administrators, school administrators, and Aboriginal community representatives (including a local First Nation) prior to the study. Data collection consisted of archival extraction of extant school discipline and student ethnicity data from SWIS (University of Oregon, 2012). Student data from Alberta were retrieved from the 2011-2012 academic year. Student data from British Columbia were retrieved from the 20102011 academic year, due to a teacher strike that may have made the 2011-2012 data less reliable. 2.4 Data Analysis Binary multilevel logistic regression was used to predict the likelihood of students with Aboriginal status receiving ODRs and suspensions, as well as the association of Aboriginal status with harshness of administrative consequences. Because the data were nested (students within schools and ODRs within students), random intercepts were included to model variance at  18  the school and student levels. All analyses were conducted using the 'lme4' package (Bates, Maechler, & Bolker, 2011) in R version 2.15.1 (R Development Core Team, 2012). All assumptions of binary logistic regression were met prior to running the analyses. For each analysis, beta weights, standard errors, significance levels, and 68% confidence intervals were calculated for each predictor variable. Odds ratios were used as measures of effect size. An odds ratio of more than 1 indicates that students with Aboriginal status are more likely to receive the outcome than students without Aboriginal status (Field, 2009; Wright, 2000). For example, an odds ratio of 2 indicates that such students are twice as likely to receive the outcome. Conversely, an odds ratio of less than 1 indicates that the student group is less likely to receive the outcome. The closer the odds ratio is to 1, the less discrepant the outcome. The first three analyses were run to test research questions 1 to 3. For each of these analyses, the cases were individual students, the predictor variable was Aboriginal status, and a random intercept was included for school. The outcome variables differed across analyses. For research question 1, the outcome variable was whether each student received an ODR during the school year. For research question 2, the outcome variable was whether each student received a subjective ODR during the school year. For research question 3, the outcome variable was whether the student received a suspension during the year. Two separate analyses were conducted to test research question 4. Both of these analyses were conducted at the ODR level. Because some students received multiple ODRs, random intercepts were included for both student and school. Student Aboriginal status and gender were set as dichotomous predictors, and grade level was set as a continuous predictor. The outcome variable for the first analysis was the severity of administrative consequence (whether the consequence received was harsh). The outcome variable for the second analysis was whether the  19  consequence was recoded as other or unknown. In both analyses, interaction effects were tested across all three predictor variables. As no interaction effects were found to be statistically significant, they were excluded all final analyses.  20  3 Results 3.1 ODRs In the entire sample, 19% of the student population received one or more ODRs. For receipt of ODRs, the proportion of variance explained at the school level was 0.6%, indicating negligible between- school differences. When disaggregated by Aboriginal status, 19% of students with Aboriginal status received one or more ODRs, and 20% of students without Aboriginal status received one or more ODRs (see Table 1). Aboriginal status was not a statistically significant predictor of receiving ODRs, b = -0.04, p = 0.79 (see Table 2). The odds ratio for students with Aboriginal status was 0. 96, indicating that contrary to hypotheses, students with Aboriginal status were not more likely to receive ODRs than students without Aboriginal status.  21  Table 1. Number and percentage of ODRs, subjective ODRs and suspensions by Aboriginal status and school  Student Outcome 1 or more ODRs  Aboriginal Status Aboriginal Status Non-Aboriginal Status n % N % (min-max) (min-max) (min-max) (min-max) 68 19% 271 20% (3 - 20) (5% - 26%) (28 - 95) (13% - 23%)  School 1* School 2 School 3 School 4 School 5  17 3 19 20 9  26% 5% 19% 22% 20%  95 80 28 30 38  23% 22% 17% 19% 13%  1 or more Subjective ODRs  41 (1-17)  11% (2% - 17%)  172 (16-63)  12% (9%-15%)  School 1* School 2 School 3 School 4 School 5  6 1 17 11 6  9% 2% 17% 12% 13%  63 45 24 16 24  15% 12% 15% 10% 9%  17 (0 - 10)  5% (0% - 15%)  60 (2 - 46)  4% (1% - 11%)  10 0 3 4 0  15% 0% 3% 4% 0%  46 2 4 4 4  11% 1% 3% 3% 1%  1 or more Suspensions School 1* School 2 School 3 School 4 School 5  Note. * = middle school.  22  Table 2. Results of prediction of ODRs, subjective ODRs, and suspensions 68% Confidence Interval for odds ratio Lower Upper 0.824 1.120  Outcome variable  Predictor variable  Β  SE  P  Odds ratio  ODRs  Aboriginal Status  -0.040  0.153  0.794  0.961  Subjective Aboriginal -0.123 0.188 0.514 Status ODRs Suspensions Aboriginal 0.286 0.298 0.338 Status Note. Separate analyses were conducted for each outcome.  0.885  0.733  1.067  1.331  0.988  1.793  3.2 Subjective ODRs In the entire sample, 12% of the student population received one or more subjective ODRs. For receipt of subjective ODRs, the proportion of variance explained at the school level was 0.7%, indicating minimal between- school differences. When disaggregated by Aboriginal status, 11% received one or more subjective ODRs, and 12% of students without Aboriginal status received one or more subjective ODRs (see Table 1). Contrary to hypotheses, Aboriginal status was not a statistically significant predictor of receiving subjective ODRs, b = -0.12, p = 0.51 (see Table 2). The odds ratio for students with Aboriginal status was 0.89, indicating that students with Aboriginal status were less likely to receive subjective ODRs, but not to a statistically significant extent. 3.3 Suspensions In the entire sample, 4% of the student population was suspended (a low rate compared to many schools in the U.S.). For the receipt of suspensions, the proportion of variance explained at the school level was 25%, indicating substantial between-school differences. One school (the middle school) was responsible for 56 of the 77 suspensions, which is likely to account for differences among schools. When disaggregated by Aboriginal status, 5% of students with 23  Aboriginal status were suspended, and 4% of students without Aboriginal status were suspended (see Table 1). Aboriginal status was not a statistically significant predictor of suspension, b = 0.29, p = 0.34 (see Table 2). The odds ratio for students with Aboriginal status was 1.33, indicating that students with Aboriginal status were more likely to be suspended, but not to a statistically significant extent. 3.4 Administrative Consequences 3.4.1 Harsh administrative consequences. When disaggregated by ethnicity, 19% of the ODRs received by students with Aboriginal status resulted in harsh consequences, and 19% of the ODRs received by students without Aboriginal status resulted in harsh consequences (see Table 3). For harshness of administrative consequences, the proportion of variance explained at the school and student levels was 14% and 22%, indicating large between-school and betweenstudent differences. Aboriginal status was not a statistically significant predictor of receiving harsh administrative consequences for ODRs, b = 0.60, p = 0.14 (see Table 4). The odds ratio for harsh administrative consequences from ODRs for students with Aboriginal status was 1.82, indicating that ODRs were more likely to result in harsh administrative consequences for Aboriginal students, but not to a statistically significant extent, and there was a large confidence interval for this odds ratio. Gender was not a statistically significant predictor of harshness of administrative consequences for ODRs, b = 0.47, p = 0.22. The odds ratio for a harsh administrative consequence from an ODR for male students was 1.60, indicating that ODRs were more likely to result in harsh administrative consequences for male students, but not to a statistically significant extent. Grade was a statistically significant predictor of harsh administrative consequences for ODRs, b = 0.40, p = 0.002, indicating that ODRs were more  24  likely to result in harsh administrative consequences for students in upper grades, and this difference was statistically significant.  25  Table 3. Number and percentage of harsh and other or unknown administrative consequences by Aboriginal status, gender, and grade  Predictors Aboriginal Status  Aboriginal Status Without Aboriginal Status Female  Administrative Consequences Harsh Consequences Other or Unknown Consequences N % N % (min-max) (min-max) (min-max) (min-max) 21 19% 48 24% (0%-43%) (0-14) (0%-67%) (0-32) 92 (2-77)  19% (1%-47%)  45 (0-17)  6% (0%-26%)  19 17% 32 14% (0-14) (0%-34%) (0-19) (0%-32%) 94 20% 61 8% Male (2-77) (1%-47%) (0-28) (0%-30%) 0 0% 30 48% Grade Kindergarten (0) (0%) (0-18) (0%-55%) 1 3% 10 10% Grade1 (0-1) (0%-10%) (0-5) (0%-29%) 2 2% 15 11% Grade 2 (0-1) (0%-13%) (0-10) (0%-44%) 1 2% 10 16% Grade 3 (0-1) (0%-8%) (0-7) (0%-19%) 5 6% 13 9% Grade 4 (1-2) (3%-9%) (0-8) (0%-24%) 6 10% 8 9% Grade 5 (0-5) (0%-23%) (0-6) (0%-20%) 26 29% 7 6% Grade 6 (0-19) (0%-44%) (0-3) (0%-23%) 40 65% 0 0% Grade 7 (40) (65%) (0) (0%) 32 33% 0 0% Grade 8 (32) (33%) (0) (0%) Note. The ranges provided are combined minimum and maximum values for the 5 participating schools. Gender  26  Table 4. Results of prediction of harsh and other and unknown administrative consequences by Aboriginal status, gender, and grade 68% Confidence Interval for odds Outcome Predictor Β SE P Odds ratio variable variable ratio Lower Upper Aboriginal 0.600 0.405 0.139 1.822 1.215 2.731 Harsh Status Consequence Gender 0.472 0.388 0.224 1.602 1.087 2.362 ** Grade 0.402 0.129 0.002 1.495 1.314 1.700 * Aboriginal 0.880 0.356 0.013 2.410 1.690 3.440 Other or Status Unknown Gender -0.105 0.390 0.788 0.900 0.610 1.330 ** Consequence Grade -0.274 0.090 0.002 0.760 0.695 0.831 Note. Separate analyses were conducted for each outcome. * Significance level <.05 ** Significance level <.01 3.4.2 Other and unknown administrative consequences. When disaggregated by ethnicity, 24% of the other or unknown ODRs were received by students with Aboriginal status, and 6% were received by students without Aboriginal status (see Table 3). For other or unknown administrative consequences, the proportion of variance at the school and student levels was 27% and 16%, indicating large between- school and between-student differences. Aboriginal status was a statistically significant predictor of other or unknown administrative consequences for ODRs, b = 0.88, p = 0.01 (see Table 4). The odds ratio for other or unknown consequences from ODRs for students with Aboriginal status was 2.41, indicating that ODRs were statistically significantly more likely to result in other or unknown administrative consequences for students with Aboriginal status. Gender was not a statistically significant predictor for other or unknown ODRs, b = -0.11, p = 0.79. The odds ratio for other or unknown administrative consequence from ODRs for male students was 0.90, indicating that ODRs were less likely to result in other or unknown administrative consequences for male students, but not significantly. Grade was a  27  statistically significant predictor for other or unknown ODRs, b = -0 .27, p = 0.002, indicating that ODRs were statistically significantly more likely to result in other or unknown administrative consequences for students in lower grades. In follow-up interviews, the administrators at the schools studied reported that they often used the other and unknown administrative consequence when they referred the student to the school Aboriginal support worker for continued support. Actions by the support worker were reported to include counseling, social skills coaching, or activities intended to restore any damaged relationships.  28  4 Discussion Students with Aboriginal status continue to experience disparities in educational outcomes, as seen in the high national dropout rate for the population. However, no empirical studies to date had examined whether disparities are seen in disproportionality in discipline contacts or administrative consequences in Canada. In this exploratory study, a series of binary multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate to what extent elementary and middle school students with Aboriginal status received disproportionate levels of ODRs and more harsh administrative consequences when compared to students without Aboriginal status in rural British Columbia and Alberta. The findings indicated that the proportion of students receiving ODRs and subjective ODRs were not significantly different by Aboriginal status. The odds ratios for both ODRs and subjective ODRs were close to 1. Therefore, students from both groups were as likely to receive ODRs and subjective ODRs. Students with Aboriginal status were somewhat but not significantly more likely to receive suspensions and harsh administrative consequences than students without Aboriginal status. Although the rates of suspension and harsh administrative consequences were slightly higher for students with Aboriginal status, the results did not indicate significant differences in consequences received. Interestingly, ODRs for students with Aboriginal status were more than twice as likely to result in other or unknown administrative consequences, which was statistically significant. 4.1 ODRs As described, the results of these analyses were unexpected. In this sample, similar proportions of students with and without Aboriginal status received ODRs and subjective ODRs. The results did not provide evidence that Aboriginal students were more likely to receive ODRs,  29  in comparison to students without Aboriginal status. This finding was contrary to the results reported in the U.S. by Wallace et al. (2008), who found that even after controlling for SES, American Indian students were statistically significantly more likely to be referred to the office for problem behaviours. In that study, American Indian students were between 1.6 and 1.7 times more likely to receive ODRs. In this sample, students with and without Aboriginal status were also referred to the office for subjective ODRs at a similar rate. Again, this finding differed from existing research findings from the U.S., which indicated that students of color may be more likely to receive ODRs for subjective behaviours (Skiba et al., 2002). Skiba et al. (2002) found that African American students had a significantly higher rate of referrals for disrespect, excessive noise, threats, and loitering. Similar results were not found in this sample. 4.2 Administrative Consequences Although Aboriginal status slightly elevated the risk of suspensions and harsh administrative consequences, this higher risk was not statistically significant in this sample. The odds ratio for these two outcome variables, 1.3 and 1.8 respectively, are somewhat lower than previous findings in the U.S., with odds ratios ranging from 1.5 to 2.1 for American Indian students (Krezmien et al., 2006; Wallace et al., 2008). The results from this exploratory study do not indicate that Canadian students with Aboriginal status receive significantly higher rates of suspensions and harsh administrative consequences in elementary and middle schools implementing PBIS. The results do not suggest that Aboriginal students receive suspensions at the same intensity as some groups of students of color in the U.S. (Skiba et al., 2011). Aboriginal status was a statistically significant predictor for the receipt of other or unknown administrative consequences. Without additional information, this finding could reflect either evidence of cultural bias or culturally responsive practices. Assigning other or unknown  30  consequences to students could hide harsh administrative consequences provided to students, but follow-up interviews indicated the use of culturally appropriate administrative decisions that are not available as options in the ODR system used. For example, the follow-up interviews seem to indicate that these other consequences (most commonly a referral to the school Aboriginal support worker) appear to be culturally responsive and effective, given the lack of differences in rates of ODRs. This additional information is encouraging, but the effectiveness of these approaches may be an important area for further research. 4.3 Disproportionality in School Discipline Practices in Canada Overall, the results from this exploratory study do not provide evidence of disproportionality in school discipline practices for elementary and middle school students with Aboriginal status in rural Canadian schools implementing PBIS. In the U.S., there is extensive evidence that students of color in general, and American Indian students to a lesser extent, are more likely to receive ODRs and harsher administrative consequences for problem behaviour (Gregory et al., 2010; Raffaele Mendez & Knoff, 2003; Skiba et al., 2011; Skiba et al., 2002; Wallace et al., 2008). In rural British Columbia and Alberta, Aboriginal students had similar odd ratios to American Indian students for the receipt of suspensions and harsh administrative consequences (Krezmien et al., 2006; Wallace et al., 2008); however, the differences in this study were not statistically significant. When considering these findings, there are a number of potential explanations for the findings indicating a lack of disproportionate discipline. First, the sample size was small, and results may be particular to these five schools. Because this study was exploratory and the first of its kind, replication with a larger number of schools would be necessary before drawing firm conclusions regarding the results seen. Second, because there are no national disproportionality  31  figures for comparison or other quantitative studies examining discipline in Canada, it is possible that there is less racial or ethnic disproportionality in school discipline in Canada. Although there are more similarities than differences between Canadian and U.S. schools and society in general, some aspects of the Canadian educational context may reduce disproportionality. For example, the percent of students with Aboriginal status in each school ranged from 14 to 38%. It is likely that school personnel in the participating schools were more familiar with Aboriginal cultures and the challenges students with Aboriginal status face in school, simply because of this larger proportion. In addition, students in these schools may feel less isolated than American Indian students in the U.S. Furthermore, students with Aboriginal status in Canada are provided with more targeted resources within schools. In British Columbia, schools are provided with provincial funding to provide students access to Aboriginal support workers within schools and programming designed to preserve Aboriginal cultures. A third potential explanation is that implementing PBIS may have contributed to the results seen. First, schools implementing PBIS use preventive systems and interventions for discouraging problem behaviour and supporting prosocial behaviour. Therefore, these schools were taking a more proactive approach to school discipline practices, potentially lowering the use of ODRs and harsh administrative consequences with all students. Second, in implementing PBIS, all of the schools implemented SWIS to provide a clearer, more objective ODR process. Schools using SWIS are required to operationalize problem behaviour and administrative consequences (May et al., 2008). As a result, these schools may have followed more objective school discipline policies that result in less subjective discipline procedures, reducing the effect of cultural bias. Third, schools implementing PBIS have identified school discipline as one of their top three school improvement goals. Four of the five schools had identified PBIS as one of  32  their top three goals, and the fifth school had recently removed it because of perceptions that PBIS had improved the social culture so such a degree that the school could focus on other priorities. Some evidence supporting this explanation comes from a separate case study of PBIS implementation in the middle school in this study (Good et al., 2011). In that school, suspensions were reduced by over 75% upon implementation of PBIS in 2007-08. Although suspension data were not disaggregated by Aboriginal status before this study, the fact that significant disproportionality was not observed after implementation indicates that PBIS was effective for students both with and without Aboriginal status. However, because no schools not implementing PBIS were included in these analyses, this study does not provide empirical evidence that PBIS reduced disproportionality in these schools. As a result, it should not be assumed that implementing PBIS will reduce racial or ethnic disproportionality in school discipline, and more research is needed to test these hypotheses. A final consideration is that PBIS was implemented in these schools with specific and intentional adaptations to fit with the local Aboriginal culture. Given their sizable Aboriginal student population and location on traditional (and for some schools, unceded) Aboriginal territories, the PBIS teams had incorporated some aspects of Aboriginal culture into their behaviour support systems. At least one of the schools had incorporated Aboriginal values, language, and iconography into their school-wide expectations, which may have led to a more culturally responsive definition of appropriate behaviour and more inclusive and welcoming school culture (Jones, Caravaca, Cizek, Horner, & Vincent, 2006; McIntosh et al., 2013). In addition, as part of their PBIS approach, the school administrators reported using culturally responsive school-wide strategies, such as consultation on implementation with local First Nations, bringing in elders and storytellers to teach lessons about respect and social  33  responsibility from an Aboriginal perspective, improving school-home communication with Aboriginal families, and direct teaching of respect, citizenship, and positive behaviour that were in line with Aboriginal teachings (Brendtro, Brokenleg, & Van Bockern, 2002). For students requiring additional support to be successful, school teams provided additional behaviour support though Aboriginal support workers and Aboriginal focused small group counseling and social skills instruction and identified and implemented strategies to address barriers to school engagement for students with Aboriginal status (Bain & Sautner, 2007). In a case study of culturally responsive PBIS implementation in a high school with a population of 99% students with Aboriginal status (McIntosh et al., 2013), the days of suspension were reduced from 689 days before PBIS implementation to 395 within two years, with six years of suspension data at or below this level. Although these strategies clearly fit within PBIS best practices regarding contextual fit (Albin, Lucyshyn, Horner, & Flannery, 1996), not all implementation of PBIS is specifically tailored to a culturally and linguistically diverse community (Vincent et al., 2011). As a result, it is unclear whether these positive outcomes can be attributed to implementing PBIS, implementing these culturally responsive strategies, or implementing a combination of the two. 4.4 Limitations Several limitations were noted throughout the course of the study. A limited number of schools participated in the study, and of those schools, only one was a middle school. In addition, that middle school accounted for the vast majority of the suspensions. A larger sample size may have increased statistical power and identified more consistent referral patterns received by students by Aboriginal status. Similarly, the numbers of students with Aboriginal status in the suspension and harsh administrative analyses were small. Only 17 students with Aboriginal  34  status received a suspension and 21 received a harsh administrative consequence. As a result, the confidence intervals for both suspensions and harsh administrative consequences were large. Furthermore, because no discipline data from schools not implementing PBIS or disaggregated pre-post data were available for analysis, any hypotheses regarding the effectiveness of PBIS or the culturally responsive components implemented in these schools are speculative. Finally, it is likely that some students with Aboriginal status were not identified as such, because student ethnicity was identified on school enrollment forms. It is possible that some students or guardians intentionally did not specify Aboriginal status, possibly to avoid potential discrimination. In addition, some students with Aboriginal status may not have been easily identified as Aboriginal and thus may have not been subject to potential cultural bias. However, based on the lack of significant evidence of disproportionality, this possibility is unlikely. 4.5 Implications for Future Research This study was the first of this nature to be conducted in Canada, and thus, further research is needed to replicate and verify results. Larger sample sizes and examination of schools by type (e.g., elementary vs. middle) may allow for a more clear understanding of ODRs and suspensions rates for students across ethnicities, gender, and grade level. The results obtained represent the first attempt to document referral and suspension rates in rural British Columbia and Alberta; however, these findings are limited in generalizability, as schools in only two rural geographic regions participated in the study. Investigating ODR and suspensions rates across the country and comparing rural and urban locations may provide a greater understanding of school discipline practices in Canada. PBIS has been shown to have a positive effect on student outcomes in general, such as reducing the use of office discipline referrals and suspensions (Bradshaw, Mitchell, & Leaf,  35  2010). Given that the participating schools were all implementing PBIS with adequate fidelity of implementation, it would be meaningful to examine the extent of disproportionality in school discipline practices in schools implementing and not implementing PBIS, both in Canada and the U.S. Furthermore, future studies could examine the extent to which implementation of the culturally responsive PBIS components in these schools has an impact on disproportionality in school discipline practices in Canada. 4.6 Implications for Practice The findings from this exploratory study did not support the hypothesis that students with Aboriginal status receive a disproportional number of ODRs and harsh administrative consequences in elementary and middle schools implementing PBIS in Canada. However, there are some important caveats to highlight that can help inform practice. First, the results indicate that students with Aboriginal status were not referred to the office more often and for more subjective behaviour. These results may be attributable to culturally responsive practices, including cultural differences between teachers in Canada and the U.S., additional support provided to students with Aboriginal status, or attention to creating a positive, predictable school culture within a PBIS framework. It is important for any school to examine its discipline data and practices to assess and reduce any disproportionality, even if schools are implementing proactive practices such as PBIS. SWIS and other ODR programs provide ethnicity reports that can instantly display charts and tables examining disproportionality in ODRs and suspensions by ethnicity. Teams can use these data to set goals and create action plans for ensuring effective and equitable discipline practices. Although the results indicated that students with Aboriginal status were not statistically significantly more likely to receive a suspension or harsh administrative decision, students with  36  Aboriginal status had an odds ratios that was greater than one. From this study, it appears that some slight differences exist in the distribution of administrative consequences for students with Aboriginal status. As a result, bringing these findings to school personnel can inform school disciplinary practices within schools and help create culturally responsive and equitable approaches to school discipline within a PBIS framework.  37  Bibliography Albin, R. W., Lucyshyn, J. M., Horner, R. H., & Flannery, K. B. (1996). Contextual fit for behavioral support plans: A model for "goodness of fit." In L. K. Koegel, R. L. Koegel & G. Dunlap (Eds.), Positive behavioral support: Including people with difficult behavior in the community (pp. 81-98). Baltimore, MD: Brookes. Andreou, T. 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A description of elementary classroom discipline referral patterns. Preventing School Failure, 48(1), 18-26. Tobin, T. J., & Sugai, G. (1996). Patterns in middle school discipline records. Journal of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders, 4, 82. doi: 10.1177/106342669600400203  44  Tobin, T. J., & Sugai, G. M. (1999). Using sixth-grade school records to predict school violence, chronic discipline problems, and high school outcomes. Journal of Emotional & Behavioral Disorders, 7, 41. doi: 10.1177/106342669900700105 Townsend, B. L. (2000). The disproportionate discipline of African American learners: Reducing school suspensions and expulsions. Exceptional Children, 66(3), 381-391. University of Oregon. (2012). ECS database: Disproportionality with First Nations data (Canada). [Database and Codebook]. Eugene, OR: Author. Vincent, C. G., Cartledge, G., May, S. L., & Tobin, T. J. (2009, October). 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Racial, ethnic, and gender differences in school discipline among U.S. high school students: 1991-2005. Negro Educational Review, 59, 47-62.  45  Wright, R. E. (2000). Logistic regression. In L. G. Grimm & P. R. Yarnold (Eds.), Reading and understanding multivariate statistics (pp. 217-244). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Wu, S. C., Pink, W., Crain, R., & Moles, O. (1982). Student suspension: A critical reappraisal. The Urban Review, 14(4), 245-303. doi: 10.1007/bf02171974  46  Appendix Expert Panel Survey We are seeking to classify problem behaviours and administrative decisions that are listed on the School-Wide Information System for research in disproportionality in school discipline practices. School-Wide Information System is a database used by schools implementing SchoolWide Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS) to track and monitor office discipline referrals (ODRs, records of student problem behaviour that occur on school property). You are being asked to categorize each problem behaviour as either “subjective” or “less subjective” based on an operational definition and your expert opinion. Furthermore, you will be required to categorize administrative decisions as either “harsh” or “less harsh” based on an operational definition and your expert opinion. Your responses will be combined with others to establish inter-rater reliability for these classifications. Thank you for providing your expert perspective.  47  1.Please indicate whether you perceive the following problem behaviours to be “subjective” or “less subjective”. Although all behaviours require some level of subjectivity in determining whether an ODR is warranted, some behaviours are more subjective than others.“Subjective” behaviours require not simply observing a discrete, objective event (i.e., observing a student smoking), but a significant value judgment regarding whether the intensity or quality of the behaviour warrants an office discipline referral.“Less Subjective” behaviours require observing a relatively more objective event in which it is clearer as to whether the behaviour warrants an office discipline referral.  Behaviour Category  Less Subjective  Subjective  Abusive language/inappropriate language/profanity      Physical aggression      Defiance/disrespect/insubordination/ non-compliance      Lying/cheating      Harassment/bullying      Fighting      Disruption      Tardy Skipping        Truancy      Property damage/vandalism      Forgery/theft      Dress code violation Technology violation        Inappropriate display of affection      Inappropriate location/out of bounds area      Gang affiliation display      Use/possession of tobacco      Use/possession alcohol Use/possession of drugs        Use/possession of combustibles      Bomb threat /false alarm      Arson      Use/possession of weapons     48  2.Please indicate whether you perceive the following administrative decisions to be “harsh” or “less harsh”.“Harsh” administrative decisions are significantly punitive and may result in pain, humiliation, or removal from the classroom for an extended period of time, with possible detrimental effects on student outcomes.“Less harsh” administrative decisions represent consequences that are mild or moderate, without pain, humiliation, or removal from the classroom for an extended period of time. Administrative Consequence  Harsh  Less harsh  Time in office      Loss of privileges Conference with student        Parent contact      Time out/detention      Restitution      Community service      Individualized instruction Bus suspension        In-school suspension      Out-of school suspension      Saturday school      Expulsion      Thank you for providing your expert perspective!  49  

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