Small class size, teacher breaks and mental health consultants for kids can make a big difference in reducing the number of expulsions for the group most likely to be expelled from school: 3- and 4-year-olds.
That's the finding of the latest study by Walter Gilliam, director of Yale University's Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.
Two years ago, Dr. Gilliam learned that preschoolers were more than three times as likely to get expelled from their state-funded preschool program compared to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Dr. Gilliam said that one of the goals of preschool is to get children ready for school.
"If there were ever a child needing help being ready for elementary school, it's a child whose behavior problems were such to cause a [preschool] teacher to no longer want that child in the classroom," he said.
The newest study, released yesterday, said that the expulsion rate increases as class size grows. Of teachers with fewer than eight children per adult in a class, 7.7 percent reported an expulsion in the past year. But of those with 12 or more pupils, 12.7 percent reported an expulsion in that time.
The report recommends a preschool class size of no more than 10 children per teacher, which is the standard in Pennsylvania for state-funded as well as state-licensed preschool.
Providing teachers with access to early childhood mental health consultants makes preschool teachers half as likely to report expulsions as those without such support, Dr. Gilliam said. (...)
The report also calls on preschools to provide "adequate time for teachers to relax during the school day, especially for teachers in extended-day programs."
The expulsion rates increase in programs with longer days. Of teachers in half-day programs, 7.1 percent reported an expulsion in a year while 13.2 percent of those with programs lasting eight or more hours a day noted expulsions.
Stress also played a role. Only 4.9 percent of teachers who felt "low stress" reported an expulsion in the past year, compared to 14.3 percent of those under "high stress." (...)
Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA