The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) collects data from public schools to help detect and prevent civil rights violations. The data collected and released by the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) can serve as an important tool for schools and districts to engage in self-analysis. The data reveals where schools and districts are lagging and where they making great progress and leading the nation in closing the opportunity gap. With this information, the public can find and learn from schools and districts defying myths about achievement and opportunity.
Today, OCR is releasing new information — based on a sample collection of school- and district-level data from the 2009-10 school year — to estimate what the results might have been at the state and national level if every public school had been surveyed.
These data files have been posted online in an effort to shine a spotlight on urgent educational concerns, while at the same time revealing where schools and districts are making great progress and leading the nation in closing the opportunity gap. However, the quality of the CRDC data ultimately depends on accurate collection and reporting by the participating districts. Each district, through its superintendent or the superintendent’s designee, is required to certify the accuracy of its submission to OCR. The technical notes posted today provide some caveats and considerations that users should take into account when using the state and national estimations, particularly for items collected for the first time in the 2009-10 school year.
The 2009-10 data collection surveyed a sample of about 7,000 public school districts and more than 72,000 public schools, representing about 85 percent of the country’s public school students. In March 2012, OCR released to the public the school- and district-level data from the CRDC and a document analyzing some of the 2009-10 sample data. In order to deepen the understanding of students’ educational opportunities, the 2009-10 CRDC collected data for the first time on whether students have access to the critical, rigorous courses needed for success in postsecondary education or training. It also collected new data on:
- Student retention
- Participation in SAT and ACT tests
- Discipline (including data on students with and without disabilities, data on in-school and out-of-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement agencies, and school-related arrests)
- Harassment and bullying
- Restraint and seclusion
- Teacher experience and attendance
- School finance
In looking ahead to future collections, OCR continues to refine technical assistance to help districts provide data that are accurate and sufficient for meaningful analysis. The collection of data for the 2011-12 school year (which collected data from every public school, not just a sample like in 2009-10) is complete and we expect to release that data in the first quarter of 2014. And plans are underway for collecting data from the 2013-14 school year starting in the fall of 2014.Rebecca Fitch is the Project Manager for the Civil Rights Data Collection at the U.S. Department of Education