Information Brief 2013-3

Importance of Student Self-Regulation

Data collected from four large urban school districts were used to examine the relationship between student’s self-regulation and two outcome measures tracked over one semester: the total number of disciplinary events and suspensions from school. Self-regulation was measured by an assessment designed to measure academic behaviors, including motivation, social engagement, and self-regulation.

The chart below shows that the number of disciplinary events per semester decreased consistently as the measure of self-regulation increased. At the lowest level of self-regulation, students averaged 2.9 disciplinary events. At the highest level, students averaged 0.3 disciplinary events.

Average Number of Disciplinary Events by Self-Regulation Scores


Graph reads: Students with a self-regulation score between 50 and 59 averaged 0.9 disciplinary events

Self-Regulation ScoreAverage Number of Disciplinary Events
01–092.9
10–192.3
20–292.0
30–391.6
40–491.2
50–590.9
60–690.7
70–790.5
80–890.4
90–990.3

Note: This chart is based on data collected from 67 schools and 16,234 students, primarily in grades 6–9. The measure of self-regulation was derived as the mean percentile score across three scales.

The chart below shows that the percentage of students suspended per semester from school decreased steadily as the measure of self-regulation increased. At the lowest level of self-regulation, nearly half of the students were suspended. At the highest levels, 8% of the students were suspended.

Percent of Students Suspended from School by Self-Regulation Score


Graph reads: Among students with a self-regulation score between 30 and 39, 31% were suspended from school during the second semester.

Self-Regulation ScorePercent of Students Suspended
01–0949%
10–1941%
20–2936%
30–3931%
40–4926%
50–5920%
60–6916%
70–7912%
80–898%
90–998%

Notes: This chart is based on data collected from 52 schools and 13,782 students, primarily in grades 6–9. The measure of self-regulation was derived as the mean percentile score across three scales.

These data show that student self-regulation is related to important indicators of student conduct in school, such as disciplinary events and suspensions. These data also highlight the importance of self-regulation as a contributor to academic success. When students are suspended or engage in conduct requiring discipline, instructional time is lost. Moreover, school environments that are safe and orderly are able to foster greater student achievement.3


More Information Briefs

1 For more information on ACT Engage, please see www.act.org/engage.

2 In 2007, 24.5% of students in grades 9–12 nationally reported having been suspended from school at least once. This percentage cannot be compared directly to the percentage observed in this study (19.5%) because this study only covers one semester. National Household Education Surveys Program of 2007. National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

3 ACT, 2012. A First Look at Higher Performing High Schools. Iowa City, IA: Author.


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