School Discipline, Police Contact, and GPA: A Mediation Analysis

Aaron Gottlieb, Zitsi Mirakhur, Bianca Schindeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exclusionary school discipline is one of the primary ways that schools address student behavior. Existing scholarship has focused on examining the implications of exclusionary school discipline for two sets of outcomes: academic achievement and future juvenile and criminal legal involvement. However, these two areas of scholarship are largely treated as separate. In this paper, we bridge these two research areas by drawing on scholarship examining the negative educational consequences of police contact for youth. Specifically, we formally test the proposition that the association between school suspension in childhood and adolescent academic achievement is mediated by police contact experienced in early adolescence. Using data from the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we find support for this hypothesis: Early adolescent police contact explains approximately 30% of the association between school suspension in childhood and adolescent GPA. By relying on exclusionary school discipline, our results suggest that schools are setting the stage for youth to become involved in the criminal legal system, which, in turn, hinders future academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 AERA.


  • academic outcomes
  • achievement
  • adolescence
  • mediation analysis
  • police contact
  • regression analyses
  • school suspension
  • secondary data analysis
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'School Discipline, Police Contact, and GPA: A Mediation Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this