[Electronically reprinted with permission from NASSP Bulletin, published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. This article appeared in Winter, 1995, volume 11.]
Assistant principals are the administrators most often concerned with maintaining student discipline at the building level, and they may be interested to note the findings of a national survey regarding student perceptions of the general fairness of school rules. It should come as welcome news that the majority of eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students reported that the rules regarding student behavior in their schools were fair and reasonable.
The data reported here are drawn from the study, "Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth." Each year since 1975 the study has surveyed a nationwide sample of high school seniors; since 1991 the study has also included nationwide samples of eighth and tenth graders.
At each grade level, data collections conducted by trained field staff from the University of Michigan take place in about 140 public and private schools, involving about 17,000 students. Students respond to a wide variety of questions about educational and social issues, including the following item: Do you feel that the rules about student behavior in your school are generally fair and reasonable? The five response categories are: Yes; Yes, mostly; No, mostly; No; and Don't know/can't say. In general, student responses to this item have remained quite stable between 1992 and 1994, the years for which data are available. Table 1 presents 1994 responses only.
|Table 1. Perceived Fairness of School Rules: Grades 8, 10, 12|
|1994 Percentage Distribution of Responses|
|Grade Level||Yes||Yes, mostly||No, mostly||No||Don't know|
Nearly two-thirds of the tenth and twelfth graders, and more than half of the eighth graders, reported that school rules were generally fair. At all three grade levels, about a quarter of the students perceived their school rules as generally unfair, while relatively few students reported that they did not know. Student responses at all three grade levels were fairly similar, with the exception that younger students were likely to report that they did not know whether school rules were fair or not. It would appear that the older students have acquired a greater certainty about the fairness of the rules regarding student behavior in their schools.
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