In School Suspension (ISS):

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): In-School Suspension

The intent of the FAQ is to introduce you to this strategy and serve as a starting point for further investigation. 

Overview

Implementation

Research

Resources

 

Overview

 

What is In-School Suspension (ISS)?

In-school suspension (ISS) is a strategy used by schools to discipline students for their behavior while ensuring that they participate in the academic process in some way.

It consists of students being removed from the normal school environment, and spending their day (or days depending on the offense) working on their normal class work in a special classroom set aside for these students. Usually a teacher or team of teachers supervises and assists students with their assignments.

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What needs can ISS address?

  • It is a punitive approach to students' problem behavior and removes them from their normal school environment.
  • It allows students to stay in the academic environment, keeping them in school and out of the community.
  • It allows students to continue with their academic learning without missing school work.

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What are the goals and primary student outcomes of ISS?

  • Gives students a "time out" to regroup and refocus.
  • Keeps students in their school routine.
  • Allows students to continue with school work.
  • Makes transition back into regular school day easier.

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Implementation

 

What are my first steps for implementation?

  • Have a space identified that can be used for class work, close to restroom facilities but away from normal school distractions if possible.
  • Identify school staff, qualified teachers preferably, that can facilitate a positive learning environment.
  • Establish expectations for the room; what rules are to be followed, what are consequences to those rules should they be broken, communication practices with parents/caregivers.
  • Ensure in-school suspension is appropriate; in-school suspension is unlikely to resolve a truancy or homework completion problem that should be resolved through other means.
  • Encourage the student to reflect on the misbehavior that lead to ISS and determine ways to improve and/or resolve those behaviors/conflicts - have resources available as needed for this student as follow up.

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What structures need to be in place for a successful implementation?

According to Anne Wheelock, a research associate with the Progress Through the Education Pipeline Project at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, characteristics of good ISS programs include:

  • A term limit; students should not be suspended indefinitely.
  • Problem-solving and/or mediation (including peer mediation) sessions among teachers and students or students and students, which result in written contracts that spell out future expectations.
  • Ensuring students come to the program with academic assignments to complete.
  • Professionals to staff the program, such as a teacher who can assess students for unidentified learning difficulties, assist in assignment completion, and by a counselor who can explore root causes of problems, refer students to community services, and engage with parents (See more at: http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin329.shtml).

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What should I keep an eye on to help ensure an effective implementation?

In-School Suspension should:

  • be one part of a school-wide strategy for creating and sustaining a positive, nurturing school climate.
  • be based on respectful relationships between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, students and students.
  • be a place where students continue to make progress on school work.
  • not be a place of punishment but discipline.
  • not be a place where students or staff nap, goof off and waste time (many schools do not allow electronics, food, or drinks in these rooms and have regularly scheduled restroom breaks).

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How do I help my staff implement ISS effectively?

  • Train teachers in effective de-escalation and behavior management methods.
  • Teachers should not see this as a way to rid themselves of troubled students.
  • Expect respectful, interactive, and constructive interactions, not punitive.
  • Establish consistent messaging and expectations.

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Research

 

What does research say about ISS?

  • Examples of effective implementation of ISS indicate the importance of establishing constructive, supportive expectations for students and staffing the room with quality, well-trained, highly motivated staff who can assist the student in school work and behavior modification strategies.
  • Publications demonstrate decrease in out of school suspensions and improvement in school-wide behavior and atmosphere when ISS is done thoroughly, comprehensively and with intention.

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What is an example of an effective implementation?

  • North Kirkwood Middle School's Student Advisory Center provides some key elements to consider when implementing a successful in-school suspension program: selectivity, consistency, constructive supervision, student reflection on his/her behavior, behavior modification plans/implementation/follow-up, and parental involvement (2001) (https://www.kycss.org/pdfs-docs/clearpdf/issuesbriefs/iss.pdf).
  • One high school with an in-school suspension program that has been gaining national attention is A. Crawford Mosley High School in Lynne Haven, Florida. The program, called Positive Alternative to School Suspension (PASS) operates as its own class, with explicit requirements and expectations, developed on the job by teacher Jim Lawson (http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin329.shtml).

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Resources

 

Where can I learn more?

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