What is In-School Suspension? - Definition & Programs

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  • 0:00 In-School Suspension
  • 1:29 ISS Models
  • 2:54 Why ISS Is a Good Idea
  • 4:27 What Might ISS Look Like?
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Nagelsen

Susan has directed the writing program in undergraduate colleges, taught in the writing and English departments, and criminal justice departments.

When students misbehave, are late too many days, or present with behavioral issues that get in the way of their education, rather than punishing them with an out-of-school suspension, schools are choosing to teach with an in-school suspension.

In-School Suspension

There isn't a student alive who isn't familiar with an in-school suspension, or ISS, either because they or their friends have had the 'pleasure' of serving their own suspension. ISS is a disciplinary, educational tool that puts students under supervision of a school authority. It's a positive setting that allows teachers, administrators, and counselors to reach out in preemptive ways to help students who may be struggling with issues that are social, emotional, or behavioral. The goal of ISS is to help the student stay on top of his or her work, while helping them figure out what may be causing the behavior that keep him or her from succeeding.

Often students would prefer to hear the words, ''You're suspended for three days, and you cannot return to school until. . . '' over being given an ISS. For example, there's Bill, a student who mouthed off to his teacher and as a result received a three day out-of-school suspension. Bill is happy with the outcome because he'll have time at home to watch TV, play video games, or wander the streets.

Educators and parents would much rather have students serving their suspension in school where it's possible that a teaching moment can happen. When an in-school suspension takes place, there's an opportunity to determine the cause of the behavior, and it may be possible to help the student make changes that will lead to a successful school experience.

ISS Models

There are four models of programs for in-school suspensions, and each one explores the effects of in-school suspensions.

Imagine that our student, Bill, broke the rules and must be punished for the infraction. The punitive model doesn't consider what caused the behavior. This model is all about making sure that the student is punished for what he or she did. Often times, this means sitting in a room for the entire school day completing work. It's important to ask yourself what you think the outcome of this type of suspension will be.

In the academic model, we believe that Bill's behavior is caused by a deficit in the academics. The goal is to diagnose the deficit and offer instruction to bridge the gap. It seems to make sense that once Bill feels less overwhelmed, he'll be less likely to misbehave in the classroom.

The therapeutic model says we need to understand what emotional issues the student might be facing. Maybe Bill's parents are divorcing or his girlfriend broke up with him and these issues are causing his inappropriate behavior. We need to encourage Bill to reflect and evaluate his issues. The ultimate goal is acceptance of responsibility.

Finally, the individual model says counseling will help the student understand the cause of his or her behavior. This assessment and counseling will also help Bill find appropriate ways to work through his issues rather than acting out.

Why ISS Is a Good Idea

The beauty of ISS is that it allows schools to provide a safe way to discipline students without having them lose instructional time. The ISS should be a way for the instructor to reconnect with the student. Hopefully, connections are made there that allow the student to find a way to get the most out of his or her education.

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