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CIVIL RIGHTS DATA COLLECTION: New Data from U.S. Department of Education Reveals Wide Disparities in Education Resources and Opportunities

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“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.”

New data released by the U.S. Department of Education on June 30 reveals wide disparities in the educational resources and opportunities that are available to students. Known as the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the data was garnered through a survey of approximately 7,000 school districts and more than 72,000 schools around the country.

“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.”

According to the data, 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 have no access to calculus classes. The data also reveals that 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 school district that serve mostly white students.

“To know that there are large numbers of schools, particularly schools that primarily serve students of color, that do not even offer higher-level classes that would lead to college and career readiness, that’s a significant finding and something that districts need to address,” Robert Rothman, senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education, told the Christian Science Monitor .

The data also finds that a significant percentage of students with limited English proficiency are not taking higher-level math in high school. Specifically, these students make up 6 percent of the high school population, but they represent 15 percent of the students for whom algebra is the highest-level math course taken by the final year of their high school career.

“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.”

Part 1 of the CRDC collected primarily enrollment data, while Part 2, which will be released in the fall, collected cumulative and end-of-year data and will include the numbers of students passing algebra, taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests, and passing AP tests; retention data by grade; and teacher absenteeism rates, among other indicators.

The database with Part 1 of the data includes both district- and school-level information and is available at http://ocrdata.ed.gov.

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Students of Color

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