When policy and psychology meet: Mitigating the consequences of bias in schools

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Science Advances  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eaba9479
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba9479


Harsh exclusionary discipline predicts major negative life outcomes, including adult incarceration and unemployment. This breeds racial inequality because Black students are disproportionately at risk for this type of discipline. Can a combination of policy and psychological interventions reduce this kind of discipline and mitigate this inequality? Two preregistered experiments (Nexperiment1 = 246 teachers; Nexperiment2 = 243 teachers) used an established paradigm to systematically test integration of two and then three policy and psychological interventions to mitigate the consequences of bias (troublemaker labeling and pattern perception) on discipline (discipline severity). Results indicate that the integrated interventions can curb teachers’ troublemaker labeling and pattern prediction toward Black students who misbehave in a hypothetical paradigm. In turn, integration of the three components reduced racial inequality in teachers’ discipline decisions. This research informs scientific theory, public policy, and interventions.

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