Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Despite the belief that the discipline and academics are fundamentally related, opposing student opportunity structures, such as the School to Prison (STP) pipeline and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) pipeline, are often studied as separate phenomena. As a result, previous research has been limited in its ability to explore problems and seek solutions to the overrepresentation of students of color in the STP pipeline and the underrepresentation of students of color in the STEM pipeline. By examining these phenomena in concert with each other, this three-article dissertation provides important insights into both the individual and institutional factors that impact a student’s entrance and persistence into each respective pipeline. Using a recent national longitudinal study of high school students, this dissertation demonstrates, a) how suspensions can influence outcomes related to the STEM pipeline, as well as how math achievement can influence outcomes related to the STP pipeline, b) how the interactions among suspension and math achievement are uniquely experienced by different race-gender intersections of identity, and c) how the impacts of suspensions on math achievement and college entrance can be experienced indirectly through attendance in high-suspension schools.

Findings from this dissertation demonstrate that discipline and academics are deeply interrelated. First, through multilevel regression modeling in article one, results demonstrate reciprocal relationships: suspensions significantly influenced outcomes related to the STEM pipeline, while math achievement significantly influenced outcomes related to the STP pipeline. Nevertheless, in both cases, within-pipeline influences remained strong and only marginally lessened the impact of cross-pipeline influences in some cases. Highlighting the varying roles of race—both at the student and school-level—in each pipeline, we conclude article one with a discussion of implications for policy and practice. Next, through latent difference score and structural equation modeling in article two, results demonstrate that suspensions significantly decreased math achievement and that the significant interactions among the STP and STEM pipelines have the effect of “pushing” students out of high school over time. Moreover, the strength of these structural interactions was different for advantaged and disadvantaged race-gender groups within and across each respective pipeline. The accumulation and saturation of these advantages and disadvantages inform our concluding discussion of policy implications in article two. Last, through propensity score weighting in article three, results demonstrate that when controlling for an individual’s suspensions, as well as a school’s overall level of social disorder, attending a high-suspension high school significantly decreases a student’s math test scores during their junior year of high school, while also decreasing a student’s odds of attending college full-time. Significant race interactions inform our discussion of policy implications at the conclusion of article three.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Odis Johnson

Committee Members

Sheretta Butler-Barnes, Garrett A. Duncan, Shenyang Guo, William F. Tate,


Permanent URL: