May 19, 2005
School Expulsion Rates Highest For 4 Year Olds

With support from the Foundation for Child Development the Yale Child Study Center has released a study on the high expulsion rates of poorly behaved 3 and 4 year olds from preschool programs.

New Haven, Conn. — Pre-K students are expelled at a rate more than three times that children in grades K-12, according to a primary study by researchers at Yale on the rate of expulsion in prekindergarten programs serving three- and four-year-olds.

Led by Yale Child Study Center researcher Walter S. Gilliam, the study, titled “Prekindergartners Left Behind: Expulsion Rates in State Prekindergarten Systems,” is based on data gathered in the National Prekindergarten Study (NPS). The paper reports on expulsion rates by program setting (public school, Head Start, private providers), gender, and race/ethnicity. The pre-K report also presents expulsion data from all 40 states that fund prekindergarten programs.

The study found that although rates of expulsion vary widely among the 40 states funding prekindergarten, state expulsion rates for prekindergartners exceed those in K-12 classes in all but three states. Prekindergarten expulsion rates vary by classroom setting. Expulsion rates are lowest in classrooms located in public schools and Head Start, and highest in faith-affiliated centers, for-profit childcare and other community-based settings. In classrooms where the teacher had no access to a psychologist or psychiatrist, students were expelled about twice as frequently. The likelihood of expulsion decreases significantly with access to classroom-based behavioral consultants that provide teachers with assistance in behavior management.

“No one wants to hear about three- and four-year-olds being expelled from preschool, but it happens rather frequently,” said Gilliam. “Pre-K teachers need access to the support staff they need to help manage classroom behavior problems. Without this support, we are setting up for failure both our children and their teachers.”

The study found that four-year-olds were expelled at a rate about 1.5 times greater than three-year-olds. Boys were expelled at a rate over 4.5 times that of girls. African-Americans attending state- funded prekindergarten were about twice as likely to be expelled as Latino and Caucasian children, and over five times as likely to be expelled as Asian-American children.

“Classroom-based behavioral consultation appears to be a promising method for reducing prekindergarten expulsion,” said Gilliam. “When teachers reported having access to a behavioral consultant who was able to provide classroom-based strategies for dealing with challenging student behaviors, the likelihood of expulsion was nearly cut in half.”

This is yet another extension of stereotypical liberal-left politically correct whining about inequality. Even preschoolers are not free from the forces of politically correctness. Bad boys are relabelled "challenging". We are all collectively turning our backs on yet another source of horrible inequity ("No one wants to hear about..."). The implication here is that boisterous out-of-control preschoolers are somehow getting discriminated against. Little boys are victimized by expulsions (never mind that they beat each other up more than little girls do). Some racial minorities are victimized while others (Asians) get even better treatment than whites. What's next? Calls for a "No Preschoolers Left Behind" legislation to complement the ridiculous No Child Left Behind law? Plus, there is the predictable claim that more experts are needed to handle the problem. Picture me rolling my eyes.

But let me stop ranting and tell you what is interesting and unsurprising about this result. Toddlers are known to be violent and uninhibited. In case you missed it go read my previous post "Humans Most Violent When Only 2 Years Old". We should expect 3 and 4 year olds to get into more trouble with "the law" than, say, 7 or 10 year olds. Why? Toddler brains are less well developed and their inhibitions against violence in particular are just not wired up yet. They try to dole out lots of physical violence. We tend not to notice this so much because most interactions that 3 year olds have are with adults and a 3 year old can't inflict much in the way of physical damage on adults. So their attempts to punch just seem cute and lame. But expect trouble if you put a bunch of them together where they can pick on someone their own size.

Fortunately toddlers are too uncoordinated and weak to do serious damage. But some of them will cause enough disruptions to make keeping them in groups with lots of others highly problematic. Attempts by "experts" to keep the more disruptive ones in groups with the better behaved seem misguided.

Also see my post "Adolescence Is Tough On The Brain". Note that the part of the brain that inhibits risky behavior does not fully develop until age 25.

Thanks to Raj for the tip.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 May 19 10:44 AM  Brain Development


Comments
Rob Sperry said at May 19, 2005 12:29 PM:

As a father who spends many hours at the local park this result seems obvious. Particularly at age three children require close adult supervision when they interact.

What is not obvious is why anyone would want to put a bunch of thee and four year olds in a classroom together. Age segregation not the way children evolved to learn, is there any scientific evidence that suggesting that it should work better than alternatives?

Having a bunch of three year olds together is like letting the blind lead the blind. If you must adopt some form of school model it’s much better to mix the ages together into a more natural distribution. A three year old will find his aggression easily contained and counterproductive when dealing with a seven year old.

Engineer-Poet said at May 19, 2005 1:49 PM:

It may benefit the 3-yr-olds to be restrained by 7-yr-olds, but I don't see how the added duties would improve the 7-yr-olds' learning.

Perhaps technology can help here.  Robot older siblings?

Joseph said at May 19, 2005 9:03 PM:

Hmm cannot post anything on the subject without getting a "questionable content". Guess I'm a dirty pervert or something.

Randall Parker said at May 19, 2005 9:14 PM:

Joseph,

When you get a message rejecting content you try to post then you have to send the text to me so that I can figure out which out of thousands of filters patterns in my anti spam filters you are hitting. I have thousands of filters. Yes, one is bound to occasionally trip up an attempt to post. I can fix it. But I need clues.

Okay, I found the problem and fixed it. I'd accidentaly put "TO" in the filters. Your posts shoudl work now.

Dave Schuler said at May 20, 2005 8:14 AM:

As my wife pointed out about this story, the younger the kid the less credentialed the teacher.

Lei said at May 20, 2005 9:11 AM:

Perhaps the problem is that we're simply forcing children to go to school earlier and earlier. As you astutely pointed out, toddlers have the least inhibition when it comes to hitting and other physical lashing out. I'm lucky enough to stay home with my two year old and will only be sending him to part-time pre-school a few times a week once he turns three. Any more than that and I'm afraid all the efforts I've made to help him rein in his impulses will be for naught. Expelling pre-schoolers would ideally put them back into a natural home environment where they could learn how to control themselves emotionally at their own pace.

SpakKadi said at May 20, 2005 4:29 PM:

School (or daycare, but I'd prefer school, since it tends to be more structured) gives kids an opportunity to interact with one another and learn that other people have their own needs and motivations. Mom or Dad may hand you that block when you ask for it nicely, but the kid next you may not. For the youngest, they can at least learn by watching other children. I've taken care of kids between the ages of 12 months and 5 years. If I had one child, it might be difficult to get him or her to sit down for snack. If I had several - including a few that had been there a while and knew the routine - it was generally easier to get them to sit down. Learning by immitation is a huge part of early learning. Mixing ages certainly helped the younger kids and the older kids were more eager to help when there were younger children because they were the "big kid". Mixing 3 and 7 year olds would be a bit much (older children can be easily bored by children who are several years younger, not to mention aggressive behavior in older children, though it may happen less, is more dangerous for the younger child), but if you had 2-year preschools where you mixed the kids who had already been there a year with the newer kids, the more experienced kids would already know the rules and help pass them on to the newer ones. Remember, this is preschool. The academic difference between 3,4 and 5 year-olds is not terribly significant.

And, yes, some kids just aren't ready to interact with other children. It's important for the teachers and the parents to recognize who those kids are and consider the options. Of course, with some kids, if you pull them out of preschool, they'll just be put in daycare, which just transfers the problem from one group of children in a room to another.

Keep in mind, my knowledge of child development comes from experience and reading on the subject rather than actually having an education in child development or anything like that. We didn't study things like that in engineering school.

Lei said at May 20, 2005 7:01 PM:

Learning by immitation is a huge part of early learning

That says it all, SpakKadi.

There are plenty of ways for children to learn social etiquette and empathy without sending them to daycare where they do not get the attention and supervision they need.

SpakKadi said at May 20, 2005 10:37 PM:

How much attention and supervision is necessary? Just because a child isn't getting constant, undivided attention doesn't mean they're being neglected. They have toys. They have other kids to play with. You may have to do some research to find a really good daycare center, but they're out there. Same with pre-schools. I know in Virginia, they have rules about child-to-teacher ratios and square-feet-to-child ratios. I had a co-worker who hired a nanny for the first year of her twin's lives, then put the twins in daycare. She was reluctant because neither she nor her husband had never been in daycare. After one bad experience that had more to do with distance and incompatible nap schedules than anything else, she found one that both she and her kids liked.

Another reason for pre-school, at least for kids with stay-at-home parents, is to ease the effects of separation anxiety. It's better to leave your kid at pre-school for three hours three days a week when they are younger so that leaving them at kindergarten (where you're less likely to be able to stick around or take them home if they get upset) for eight hours isn't a traumatic shock.

scottynx said at May 21, 2005 9:29 AM:

It's better to leave your kid at pre-school for three hours three days a week when they are younger so that leaving them at kindergarten (where you're less likely to be able to stick around or take them home if they get upset) for eight hours isn't a traumatic shock.

Kindergarten wasn't 8 hours long when I went to Kindergarten (it was a public school in southern california, 1987). It lasted about 3 hours, half the length of time that the 1st-6th graders had to attend for, which was about 6 hours. If my experience is not unique (I did NOT live in some isolated desert community) then it appears that Kindergarten already does what you say pre-school is good for, easing children into school without a traumatizingly long school day.

In some areas/circumstances Full-Day (or sometimes called Extended Day) kindergarten is available, which would of course undercut this.


Lei said at May 21, 2005 9:33 AM:

Exactly, scottynx. Not only do we have kids going to school at younger and younger ages, we have kids in organized activities for more hours than ever before. I realize that many families need to have dual incomes in order to survive in this economy. But if we pretend like it's not having a negative impact on children and family life, we're kidding ourselves.

Ken said at May 21, 2005 6:30 PM:

"Exactly, scottynx. Not only do we have kids going to school at younger and younger ages, we have kids in organized activities for more hours than ever before. I realize that many families need to have dual incomes in order to survive in this economy. But if we pretend like it's not having a negative impact on children and family life, we're kidding ourselves."

You know, it would be useful if putting kids in school younger and younger actually helped them grow up sooner. But that doesn't seem to be the case. The extra time in school doesn't seem to get them to progress any faster overall.

Of course, that could be because the real problem is at the other end - no matter how advanced they are, they don't get out of childhood any earlier by being actually ready to graduate high school except in very special circumstances. So all the early childhood education in the world only requires them to do extra waiting before the diploma they could have earned years earlier is finally granted and they can start some real learning...

Randall Parker said at May 21, 2005 7:47 PM:

Ken,

A major problem with the current educational institutions is that they force large groups of students to all move through courses at the same rate. We don't know how fast some of them could progress if they had opportunities to get lectures and take tests at customized personal accelerated rates. I strongly advocate allowing kids to watch prerecorded college course lectures and to take tests for college courses at their own rates.

On the other hand, early childhood education is limited by biological constraints in how the brain develops. I believe kids literally have to wait for certain types of genetically capabilities to be developed. Be sure to see my post "Adolescence Is Tough On The Brain" for some supporting evidence for this idea. Also, psychometric tests of IQ are age normalized because kids become smarter by IQ test measurement as they grow up.

As for the value of preschool in particular: I've read claims that Head Start and other early childhood education programs do not help kids from the lower classes to gain a lasting advantage in school achievement.

Anastasia said at June 10, 2005 2:55 PM:

I have a 3 year old son who has been dismissed form three schools within five months. He doesn't sdjust well in large group settings. He was aggressive towards the teacher and sudents. It becomes so extreme I was called to pick him up on a daily basis until they couldn't deal with it or him anymore. We have a Nanny to stay with him in his own comfortalble environment. I only work four hours a day in the mornings. I am home all Summer and all holidays. I am so stressed and overwhelmed with his behavior. He has calmed down since December. (last time at school) But...he has been at home. He does have a bad day once on a while with his sitter. Hitting, scratching or screaming and throwing toys when he doesn't get his way. I am so nervous about enrolling him in school in the Fall. I am considering a small program three hours a day, three days a week and keeping our sitter. We don't know what to do or where to turn next. This is causing stress between my husband and I because he thinks our son is just being a boy, and I think something else is wrong or going on with him. We have had him evaluated and they have started him ina speach program but they did not find any special education problems.It is too soon to say if he has ADHD, but that is what I am leaning towards. What do I do next or where should I turn? I need help.

Sherry said at February 15, 2006 6:55 AM:

Hitting, scratching or screaming and throwing toys when he doesn't get his way. I am so nervous about enrolling him in school in the Fall. I am considering a small program three hours a day, three days a week and keeping our sitter. We don't know what to do or where to turn next. This is causing stress between my husband and I because he thinks our son is just being a boy, and I think something else is wrong or going on with him. We have had him evaluated and they have started him ina speach program but they did not find any special education problems.It is too soon to say if he has ADHD, but that is what I am leaning towards. What do I do next or where should I turn? I need help.

A childs tempermant is inherited as was yours. I don't expect that you or your husband are "hitting, scratching, or throwing toys" but I think you should look at your and your husbands tempermant. Do you anger easily? It may simply be that your child has a tempermant that is not "normal" and I say that lightly because normal is only what any ONE person percieves it to be.

The structure of school should benefit him. ADHD is a diagnosis that is overused. "Special Education problems"-children are smarter than we give them credit for. After all, your son has figured out how to get his way. One night I told my 4 year old I was going to bed and asked him if he was going too. He said, I'll be there in four minutes. I knew he wasn't going to stay up without me so I asked him, "What are you going to do for 4 minutes". He said, "well, I'm going to watch 4 minutes of TV. (I thought to myself...yep, makes sense, why didn't I think of that?" Most children are smart and some smarter than others. It may simply be that your child is in the "smarter than others category".

Don't play "let's make a deal" with your child. You are the parent and the authority figure and your child needs to know that. If he needs familiar surrounds, let him take something with him to school/daycare that is familiar to him. In a week, he probably won't need it. I would not be as concerned that your son is throwing tantrums as I would be that these schools don't have the ability or patience to deal with a child throwing tantrums. My son acted very much the same way. I had some good people that I knew at the daycare who was willing to work with me and my child. We said no, meant no, and didn't argue or try to "bribe" him into doing anything. Eventually, he just got mad, crossed his little arms, sat down in the floor and pouted for a while. We left him in the floor to pout. Five minutes later he forgot why he was mad and joined the rest of the children (especially when he thought he was missing out on something that was major fun..ya know:o))

This may be a bad analogy but I had a pit bull pup once and at just 8 weeks old he would growl at people that spoke to me. Concerned because these dogs can be violent I took him to the vet and the response was this, "don't tolerate any kind of aggression and SOCIALIZE him with lots of other people and animals". Okay, as bad as that sounds LOL it works much the same with children.

Your husband has somewhat of a valid point. Children are just children and often fight and carry on. Conditioned responses....when my son hears the theme music for law and order...he knows its time for bed. LOL

Don't worry so much. I understand your concerns but I believe it will get better. The positive point here is that while you are sticking to your guns and socializing him..you get a breather.

Trisha said at February 27, 2006 10:41 AM:

"This may be a bad analogy but I had a pit bull pup once and at just 8 weeks old he would growl at people that spoke to me. Concerned because these dogs can be violent I took him to the vet and the response was this, "don't tolerate any kind of aggression and SOCIALIZE him with lots of other people and animals". Okay, as bad as that sounds LOL it works much the same with children. "

I completely agree with you. However, when your child is hitting and kicking you and screaming in your face and you are telling him that screaming, hitting and kicking and sometimes even head butting is not acceptable in our household and everytime he does it he gets sent to his room or a timeout on the couch and he still continues to do it, what do you do??????? I feel as though I DO NOT tolerate it but he still does it and has been doing it off and on for 2 years. So what do you do? WE live in an apartment and can not have him screaming at the top of his lungs. He is almost 4 (in May) and is very big for his age. He is 3'7" and 52 pounds (solid). When he hits it does hurt. Any ideas as to what we can do to not tolerate it any further??? WE have tried EVERYTHING.

Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

                       
Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©