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High School Regulatory Environment and Student Disengagement

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Bryony Horsley-Heather.


The purpose of this presentation is to overview research on school environments ongoing in the U.S., to discover whether the issues are similar to those in the U.K., and to identify areas in which we may be able to learn from each other through mutual collaboration.

High security and strict discipline codes in American schools are intended to make schools safer and create an orderly environment for learning. Toward that end, zero tolerance policies and school suspensions are commonplace, and the use of security measures (e.g., cameras in hallways, metal detectors, random checks of backpacks and lockers) has increased dramatically. These create a “regulatory environment” that can impact students’ perceptions and behaviours. In the U.S., research documenting positive effects of these practices is almost non-existent.

However, educators have identified potential adverse effects of these well-intended practices, some supported by empirical data. Specifically: the costs of security measures; the deleterious effects of out-of-school suspensions on students; high security producing feelings of being unsafe or treated unfairly; and the uneven distribution of security measures and discipline, raising issues of equity.

This talk is part of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (CCE) series.

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