Daily discipline rates at middle schools fluctuate in noticeable patterns throughout the academic year, and they escalate more rapidly — and remain higher — for Black students than for white students, according to a study by a UCLA researcher and colleagues published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sean Darling-Hammond, an assistant professor of biostatistics, community health sciences and education policy at UCLA, and his co-authors from UC Berkeley and Stanford University reviewed four years of data from one of the nation’s largest school districts and modeled daily discipline rates for nearly 47,000 students in the district’s 61 middle schools.

They found that daily disciplinary actions — including being sent to the principal’s office, suspended or expelled — followed a similar pattern across schools and student subgroups each year, with rates rising in the first few months, falling right before major school holidays, then increasing steeply after these holiday breaks. However, disparities emerged early on, they noted, with disciplinary rates for Black students shooting up quickly and precipitously and continuing at levels far above their white counterparts throughout the year.

Read the full release on the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health website.

Video: How does it feel to be a black student?

“This video takes a unique approach to summarizing the findings of the research,” Darling-Hammond said. “It translates the findings into sound and is designed to show how it might feel to be a Black middle school student experiencing the growth in punitiveness and inequity that occurs as the year marches on.”