Positive Supports for Behavior and Discipline

Group of teenagers giving friends piggyback rides.

three circle venn diagram that reads data, systems, practicesReducing Exclusionary Discipline & Increasing Behavioral Supports  

Children with disabilities, particularly children of color with disabilities, are suspended and expelled from school at disproportionately higher rates than their peers – a trend that starts as early as preschool.  

The negative impact of exclusionary discipline on a child’s short- and long-term outcomes is well documented. Exclusionary discipline’s negative impacts include decreased academic achievement and increased risk of entering the juvenile justice system. 

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the OSERS Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has prioritized reducing exclusionary discipline and supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices that focus on prevention, intervention and behavioral strategies.  

OSERS/OSEP released guidance that describes practices in early childhood and school programs that can be used to prevent and respond to interfering behavior. Schools and early childhood programs can use the guidance to support children with disabilities and address disparities in the use of exclusionary discipline.

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U.S. Department of Education Discipline/Behavior Guidance and Resources


Resource Guides on Positive, Proactive Approaches to Discipline

The following resource guides summarize additional resources that have been set up in tables and can support schools and early childhood programs in implementing positive, proactive approaches to support and respond to children’s behavioral needs more effectively. Following the resources in each guide is information about OSEP TA Centers that can provide additional information to support schools in implementing the practices described below.

OSERS is committed to providing resources to support state and local efforts to implement this guidance and reduce exclusionary discipline through: 

  • Examination of data to better understand the frequency of exclusionary discipline and support ongoing efforts to reduce its use; 
  • Systems changes at the state, local, school or early childhood program levels; and 
  • Evidence-based practices to support educators working with children ages pre-k through high school
three circle venn diagram that reads data, systems, practices