The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today unveiled new data from the 2013-2014 school year showing gaps that still remain too wide in key areas affecting educational equity and opportunity for students, including incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention, and access to early learning.
The CRDC, which collected student absenteeism rates for the first time, revealed that 6.5 million students—13 percent of all students—were chronically absent from schools in 2013-14.
While student discipline occurs in high numbers and disparities remain significant, the 2013-14 CRDC reveals that out-of-school suspensions decreased by nearly 20 percent since 2011-12, as more schools find alternative ways of addressing non-violent student behavior. But this progress is not occurring for all groups of students; the data show, that, in general, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities are, on average, disciplined more often than their classmates.
The Department releases the CRDC every two years to create transparency around the educational opportunities and experiences of millions of public school students. Similar to the 2011-12 CRDC, the 2013-14 CRDC covers more than 50 million students enrolled in nearly every school and school district in the United States.
In addition to chronic student absenteeism, the 2013-2014 CRDC collected data on several new topics for the first time, including access to educational programs in justice facilities; availability of distance education, including online courses; the presence of sworn law enforcement officers in schools (including school resource officers); availability of partially or fully cost-subsidized preschool; and whether the district has a civil rights coordinator.
The CRDC measures access to early learning programs. Schools are required under federal law to provide special education and related services for preschool-age children with disabilities. But more than half of school districts are offering preschool above and beyond what is required. More than 85 percent of those school districts are providing those services at no cost to families. Unfortunately, the remaining school districts are charging families to attend, which is a burden to low-and middle-income families.
Key data points of note:
- Nationwide, 2.8 million K-12 students received one or more out-of-school suspensions—which is a nearly 20 percent decrease from the number of out-of-school suspensions reported two years ago.
- Black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to be suspended as are white preschool students.
- In kindergarten through the 12th grade, black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended as are white students. Black students also are nearly twice as likely to be expelled—removed from school with no services—as are white students.
- Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely as students without disabilities to be suspended in K-12 settings. They also represent two-thirds of students who are secluded from their classmates or restrained to prevent them from moving—even though they are only 12 percent of the overall student population.
Access to advanced courses
- More than half of high schools do not offer calculus, four in ten do not offer physics, more than one in four do not offer chemistry, and more than one in five do not offer Algebra II, which is considered a gateway class for success in college.
- By many measures, some student groups are more likely than others to miss out on these opportunities:
- Only a third of high schools with high black and Latino enrollments offer calculus, compared to 56 percent of those that serve low numbers of black and Latino students.
- Less than half the high schools with high black and Latino enrollments offer physics, while two in three high schools that have low numbers of black and Latino student offer physics.
- English learners have disproportionately low participation rates in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs: while English learners are 11% of all students in schools offering GATE programs, fewer than 3% of GATE students nationwide are English learners.
- Black and Latino students also participate at lower rates in Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs. Although black and Latino students make up 42 percent of students enrolled in schools that offer GATE programs, they are only 28 percent of the students who participate in those programs.
- Girls are underrepresented in some advanced coursework such as physics, but not in others such as calculus.
Teacher and Staffing Equity
- 10 percent of the teachers in schools with high numbers of black and Latino students are in their first year of teaching, compared to only 5 percent in schools with low numbers of black and Latino students.
- 11 percent of black students, 9 percent of Latino students and 7 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native students attend schools where more than 20 percent of teachers are in their first year of teaching, compared to 5% of white students.
- More than 20 percent of high schools lack any school counselor.
- 1.6 million students attend a school with a sworn law enforcement officer but not a school counselor.
Today's release is the first in a series of data analyses from the 2013-14 CRDC that the Department will issue over the course of the summer and fall. To make these data more accessible and useful for parents, educators, policymakers and others, for the first time, the whole data file is available online at CRDC.ed.gov.
One group that plans to use the new data is the nonprofit GreatSchools, which reaches more than half of U.S. families with school-age children with school information each year. Using the CRDC, GreatSchools aims to build a richer set of individual school profiles that shed light on student access to educational opportunity, with a particular focus on equity. Specifically, the group hopes to spotlight access to rigorous coursework, college readiness milestones, student absenteeism, discipline rates, athletics participation, and counselors-per-student.
The federal government has collected civil rights data about schools since 1968. As with previous Civil Rights Data Collections, the purpose of the 2013-14 report is to obtain vital data related to civil rights laws requiring public schools to provide equal educational opportunity.