Associations of teacher characteristics with preschool suspensions and expulsions: Implications for supports

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Chow, K. A., Gaylor, E., Grindal, T., Tunzi, D., Wei, X., & Tiruke, T. (2021). Associations of teacher characteristics with preschool suspensions and expulsions: Implications for supports. Children and Youth Services Review, 129, Article 106162.


Preschool children subjected to suspension and expulsion miss valuable educational opportunities and are more likely to experience academic failure and grade retention. These forms of exclusionary discipline are more frequent in preschool settings than in K–12 education classrooms. Previous research has examined the prevalence and influencing factors of exclusionary discipline in early childhood settings, but less is known about what this looks like in a well-resourced state-funded preschool program that includes characteristics that have been shown in prior research to be associated with reducing the likelihood of exclusionary discipline incidents (e.g., low student–teacher ratios, program resources to assist teachers in managing child behaviors). This study examines reports of exclusionary discipline actions in a large, well-resourced, state preschool program for low-income 4-year-olds and examines whether report of these disciplinary actions varies by teacher characteristics. The study also reports teachers’ reasons for engaging in these practices. Data are drawn from annual surveys of 147 teachers working in the state preschool program from 2016 to 2018. We find that at least one child was subject to some form of exclusionary discipline in more than a quarter of responding teachers’ classrooms. Suspension was the most common form of exclusionary discipline. Teachers with fewer years of experience teaching preschool were more likely to report engaging in exclusionary discipline than more experienced teachers. Concerns regarding the safety of the child, the child’s peers, or program staff were cited by nearly all teachers as a reason for using exclusionary discipline.

Keywords: Early childhood education, Preschool, Challenging behaviors, Suspension and expulsion, Teachers.

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