Suspensions in Rockford Public Schools are at an eight-year low, according to recently charted student discipline data. The Illinois State Board of Education's out-of-school suspension data show a nearly 65 percent decrease in the number of suspensions and a nearly 49 percent decrease in the number of students suspended. The number of students suspended in 2008-09 was 5,626, with 18,690 incidents resulting in suspension. The number of students suspended in 2016-17 was 2,885, with 6,576 incidents resulting in suspension.
Disaggregating the data, the trend line is down for all students, regardless of race. The total number of students suspended dropped by 64 percent when comparing white students in 2009 vs. 2017; by 49 percent for Hispanic students and by 45 percent for black students. Total infractions are also down, regardless of race. The total number of infractions that resulted in suspension dropped by 72 percent when comparing white students in 2009 vs. 2017; by 67 percent for Hispanic students and by 64 percent for black students.
"Student discipline has been a point of discussion at the state and national level, and we want to be part of that narrative because we have good news to share," said Deputy Superintendent Matt Vosberg. "Our data show we are excelling at improving the learning environment for our students. If you visit our schools, that reaffirms the data."
Student discipline is assigned according to the Student Code of Conduct. The code is updated annually and outlines behavioral expectations and discipline policy for RPS 205. It is designed to clarify the rights and responsibilities of students, parents, teachers, bus drivers and other school personnel. The Student Code of Conduct is a progressive code, so repeated lower-level infractions may result in suspension. The most common discipline infractions, districtwide, are skipping class, disobedience, and failure to attend assigned discipline.
Administrators attribute the decrease to the following factors:
- Parent involvement
- Quality instruction
- Monitoring transitions in the hallways and cafeteria
- Continuing to engage students in our high school academies
- Increased participation in extracurricular activities
- Better training of building-level administrators
- Expanded alternative learning opportunities
- Twice-yearly Climate and Culture visits for all secondary schools
"We have made our expectations for students very clear, and we follow through when there are infractions," Vosberg said. "Our students continue to demonstrate that when they know the rules, they follow them."