Suspensions & Expulsions in Early Grades

A Problem Texas Can Fix with Strategies to Support Teachers and Students

Student behavior in pre-k and the first few years of elementary school is often a challenge for teachers and administrators. In many cases that challenging behavior is developmentally appropriate and common, and in some cases it is also a product of childhood trauma or a developmental challenge. There are effective steps that teachers and schools can take to address student behavior, but all too often, school districts suspend or expel young students from their classroom. When young children are removed from their classrooms and schools, they miss out on the very opportunities they most need – the chance to learn, practice, and develop the foundational skills required for success in school and life.

Concerns about the high numbers of suspensions and expulsions in the early grades recently led several Texas districts, including Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and Austin ISDs, to place significant restrictions on the practice. State legislators have filed similar statewide bills. Those proposals are an important step in the right direction. However, these efforts will be most effective if coupled with strategies that provide teachers and schools with effective interventions to address challenging behaviors in students.

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