Dr. Sireen Irsheid Explores School “Pushout” Phenomenon with Silver Seed Grant
By NYU Silver CommunicationsOct 10, 2023
Many scholars argue that students who do not complete high school do not drop out voluntarily but rather are ‘pushed out’ through multiple mechanisms related to structural and socioeconomic barriers, behavioral health challenges, discordant teaching methods, and inequitable disciplinary policies. While most efforts to respond to the school pushout phenomenon have focused on individual characteristics of the predominantly Black and Brown students affected, with a seed grant from NYU Silver’s Office for Research, Assistant Professor Sireen Irsheidwill explore the nuance and complexity of structural forces at play.
As a school social worker in Harlem earlier in her career, Dr. Irsheid worked with many students who did not complete high school after being suspended, expelled or involved with the juvenile legal system. Her planned exploratory study will include in-depth interviews with 20 affected young people aged 14-24, 20 caretakers of young people who were affected, and 20 relevant school staff in order to gain a holistic understanding of the school pushout phenomenon.
“The study aims to qualitatively examine the multifaceted pathways of school pushout through the evaluation of educational and noneducational structures of opportunity and disinvestment – such as school resources and supports, school discipline, affordable housing, access to green space, food security – and the way young people are forced to negotiate these experiences,” said Dr. Irsheid. Another objective is to explore the perceptions and decision-making of relevant adults in the school and how they shape young people’s experiences and outcomes related to school pushout.
The transformative racial equity framework (TREF), which Dr. Irsheid co-created, will guide the study. “Designed with a social justice approach,” she explained, “the TREF illuminates how inequity is embedded in multiple and complex layers of society, elucidating the assets and resistance of communities and schools located in neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment. Given that education inequities are affected by larger societal inequities that intersect at the neighborhood, school, family, and individual levels, the TREF will inform the study’s theoretical and conceptual framing of school pushout.”
Dr. Irsheid aims to use the insights gained from examining the experiences and outcomes of each young person in the study and the structural factors that facilitate their suspension, expulsion, or arrest to inform policy and practice solutions.