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Equity in Civic Technology, Privacy & Data

Brief – Hidden Harms: Disproportionate Disciplinary Action

By Elizabeth Laird, with consulting support from Hugh Grant-Chapman, Independent Consultant

Graphic for CDT's research brief, entitled "Hidden Harms: Disproportionate Disciplinary Action." Black text on a white background.
Graphic for CDT’s research brief, entitled “Hidden Harms: Disproportionate Disciplinary Action.” Black text on a white background.

An ever-growing body of research suggests that students from certain communities are systematically disciplined by schools more than their peers, especially those who are in particular racial groups, LGBTQ+, or disabled. Although schools are taking steps to address underlying causes that might be exacerbating these disparities, new uses of technology may undermine these efforts, including the use of student activity monitoring.

CDT recently released research showing that student activity monitoring, which is ostensibly aimed at keeping students safe, is more commonly used to discipline them, with a disparate impact along racial lines. The research found that:

  • Student activity monitoring is being used for discipline, and stakeholders have concerns;
  • Impact of disciplinary action (and law enforcement involvement) increases when student activity monitoring is used outside of school hours;
  • Students who have been disciplined, and their parents, express concerns about student activity monitoring usage; and
  • Predictive analytics of student data might result in disciplinary action.

Read the full research brief here.