The N.C. State Board of Education posted the draft 2013-14 Consolidated Data Report on the their meeting website today.  The report, which will be discussed and approved next week, provides state and district-level data on incidents of school crime and violence, short-term suspensions, long-term suspensions, use of corporal punishment, dropout rates, and other measures.

Let’s look at some of the most talked-about data points.

School crime and violence: The number of acts of crime and violence by students in grades K-13 (per 1000 students) decreased from 7.20% in 2012-13 to 6.79% in 2013-14.

Short-term suspensions: There were 84,295 grade 9-13 short-term suspensions reported statewide in 2013-14, a decrease of 24.1% from the 2012-13 total of 111,122.

Long-term suspensions: The number of long-term suspensions (11 or more days) for all students declined from 1,423 to 1,088.

Expulsions: The number of expulsions remained at 37, the same as in 2012-13.

Use of corporal punishment: There were 122 uses of corporal punishment statewide in 2013-14. Corporal punishment was used at least once by only five school districts in the state.

Dropout rates: High schools in North Carolina reported 10,404 dropouts in 2013-14. The grade 9-13 dropout rate in 2013-14 was 2.28%, down from the 2.45% reported for 2012-13.

The Consolidated Data Report does not identify the cause(s) of these changes.  Republicans and their allies will likely credit reforms passed since 2010.  Democrats and their allies will claim that the changes are the result of “investments” in preschool programs.  My advice is to ignore both.  THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF ANY CAUSE-AND-EFFECT RELATIONSHIP.

If you want to assign credit for these positive trends, give a shout-out to the state’s teachers and school-based administrators.