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UCSF study shows that suspending students leads to big GPA drop

Students in classroom
Mukul urp
Flickr / Creative Commons
Students in classroom

The study was published online last week in the American Medical Association’s open-access journal. It followed nearly 17,000 students from sixth through 10th grades in a large urban school district in California, from 2014 to 2017.

According to EdSource, the findings were clear: students who were removed from a classroom or suspended in the first year of the study saw their GPAs drop by nearly a full letter grade by the study's end. The impact on African American, Latino, and Indigenous students was even more dramatic, with their GPAs dropping nearly one-and-a-half points.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Camila Cribb Fabersunne [, is an assistant professor of pediatrics at UCSF. In a statement, she said, [quote], "When students are subject to trauma in a place that should be a sanctuary - a place where they think they will be safe from racism and the adults will support them - it impacts them in a profound way."

The authors recommend that local, state and federal policymakers replace exclusionary practices like suspensions and the presence of school police, with in-school behavioral and mental health support.

Sheryl Kaskowitz is a fellow in KALW's Audio Academy. Her beat is public arts and culture.