WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Education today released data that cast much-needed light on disparities in educational resources and opportunities for students across the country.
These data provide policymakers, educators and parents with critical information that will aid them in identifying inequities and targeting solutions to close the persistent educational achievement gap in America.
Known as the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the data released today is the first installment of a two-part biennial survey. The survey covers approximately 7,000 school districts and more than 72,000 schools, and has also been significantly enhanced and made more accessible through improved data collection, additional data indicators, and publicly-accessible online tools for data analysis. Part 2 of the CRDC is expected to be released this fall.
“To meet President Obama’s goal to lead the world in college graduates by 2020, we need efficient, practical and accessible information like this to help guide our path," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These data show that far too many students are still not getting access to the kinds of classes, resources and opportunities they need to be successful.”
The data released in Part 1 today includes information on: access to the rigorous sequence of college and career-ready math and science courses, the number of first and second-year teachers in schools, the number of high school counselors in schools, availability of pre-K and kindergarten programs, districts operating under desegregation orders or plans, and whether districts have written policies prohibiting harassment and bullying on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability.
Within the 7,000 sampled school districts:
· 3,000 schools serving nearly 500,000 high school students offer no algebra II classes, and more than 2 million students in about 7,300 schools had no access to calculus classes.
· Schools serving mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have teachers with one or two years of experience than are schools within the same district that serve mostly white students.
· Only 2 percent of the students with disabilities are taking at least one Advanced Placement class.
· Students with limited English proficiency make up 6 percent of the high school population (in grades 9–12), but are 15 percent of the students for whom algebra is the highest-level math course taken by the final year of their high school career.
· Only 22 percent of local education agencies (LEAs) reported that they operated pre-K programs targeting children from low-income families.
· Girls are underrepresented in physics, while boys are underrepresented in algebra II.
"Despite the best efforts of America's educators to bring greater equity to our schools, too many children -- especially low-income and minority children -- are still denied the educational opportunities they need to succeed," said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali. "Transparency is the first step toward reform and for districts that want to do the right thing, the CRDC is an incredible source of information that shows them where they can improve and how to get better."
The 2009-10 data reflect important changes both to the method of collection and to the information being gathered. The sample included school districts of all sizes, including every school district with more than 3,000 students as well as state-operated juvenile justice facilities. The survey was for the first time conducted in two phases: Part 1 collected primarily enrollment data, while Part 2 collected cumulative and end-of-year data. Most of the student data are disaggregated by race/ethnicity, sex, disability (including additional disaggregation by disability status in some instances), and limited English proficient status.
The Part 2 data, which will be released this fall, will include: numbers of students passing algebra, taking AP tests, and passing AP tests; significantly expanded discipline data; data on restraint and seclusion; retention data by grade; teacher absenteeism rates; school funding data; and data on incidents of harassment and bullying. The Part 2 data will thus highlight some of the most important civil rights issues facing our schools today, such as whether certain groups of students are being disciplined more harshly or more often than other groups, and whether all groups are equally likely to be taking the SAT or ACT — the tests most likely to help them enter college. Many of these data will be available at the school level for the first time anywhere. State and national projections based on the sample data collected for the 2009-10 school year will also be made available before the end of this year.