Multiple studies over the past two decades have found that expulsion rates in public and private preschools nationwide are significantly higher than expulsion rates in K-12 education. According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, nationwide, an average of 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled every day. This is a concern because when young children are removed from school, they lose important opportunities to continue learning academic as well as social-emotional skills and are more likely to develop ongoing behavior issues and negative views of school that affect learning later on. The children’s families are also impacted, with parents forced to miss work and income in order to provide childcare.
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown significant racial and ethnic disparities in early childhood expulsions and suspensions. A recent analysis of the National Survey of Children’s Health data by the Center for American Progress revealed that Black preschoolers are 2.2 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than other children, and that boys receive 82% of preschool expulsions and suspensions, despite representing 51% of the preschool population. A September 2021 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that teachers tended to complain more about Black students. These teachers identified Black students’ behavior as more problematic, compared with white students, the authors wrote, even though these differences “were not seen in directly observed behavior in the laboratory.”
Read more about the issue of early childhood suspensions and expulsions in this article from Scientific American, linked below.
Find resources for understanding and eliminating expulsions in early childhood programs from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services here.