Date of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Psychology and Educational Studies


With an ever growing understanding that American Public School Systems are not successfully serving the needs of their students the amount of research on education, discipline, racial disparity, and student achievement is vast. However, the amount of literature that contextualizes the experiences of students, teachers, and school staff remains limited. In my study, I focus on the local reality of Pharos Elementary School, a high-poverty school in Hartford, CT. My study examines how misbehavior is defined in the school context, what form of discipline practices are used, and what effect that has on school climate. I used a mixed method approach, conducting five formal interviews, 20 hours of field observation, and analysis of school discipline data-bases. I found that there is an over-reliance of exclusionary discipline for ambiguously defined reasons such as "misbehavior" and "disrespect". The findings also suggest larger trends in an overemphasis of discipline in high-poverty, racial minority schools. Understanding the experiences of the people represented in my study highlights the flaws in the current system as well as offers realistic recommendations for improvement.


Senior project completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Educational Studies.