Most North Carolina school districts have essentially banned the practice altogether. The non-profit's Tom Vitaglione says the dramatic decline is a response to a growing body of research that has found no relationship between hitting students and academic improvement. In fact the reverse is true, with graduation rates and end-of-year test scores on the rise.
"When we did this survey last year, there were nine districts that used it 404 times," says Vitaglione.
"Now it's down to just six districts and that's out of 115 districts. They used it just 184 times, so it declined by 50 percent. We're just delighted corporal punishment is on the wane in our state."
To most people, corporal punishment has been defined over the years as paddling a student, but Vitaglione describes the process as being traumatic for a child.
"It's more ritualistic," he says. "It does mean that the student is going to be alone in a room with two adults; the person that's going to do it and a witness that's prescribed by law. And that for a seven year old, is pretty intimidating right there. The whole process is kind of eerie. It's a lot more than just the word spanking connotes."
Vitaglione says state law stipulates those receiving corporal punishment do not need medical care beyond first aid treatment. Most of the current cases are in Robeson County, accounting for more than three-quarters of the state's total.
This past February, the State School Board adopted a resolution against corporal punishment. The practice is also opposed by State Superintendent June Atkinson.