Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
In an event at Howard University attended by civil rights and education reform groups, federal education officials today released new data from a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85% of the nation’s students. The self-reported data, Part II of the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), covers a range of issues including college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, and student retention.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the CRDC findings are a wake-up call to educators at every level and issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities.
“The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves, but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change. The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that,” Duncan said.
Among the key findings are:
African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled.
•Students learning English (ELL) were 6% of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12% of students retained.
•Only 29% of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment.
•Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali said that for the first time, this survey includes detailed discipline data, including in-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-related arrests.
“These new data categories are a powerful tool to aid schools and districts in crafting policy, and can unleash the power of research to advance reform in schools,” Ali said.
The CRDC also provides a comparative picture of college and career readiness, school finance, teacher absenteeism, student harassment and bullying, student restraint and seclusion, and grade-level student retention.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson applauded efforts by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to shed light on the problem of excessive use of suspension and expulsion of students as a disciplinary tool in the nation’s schools.
“Collecting this data helps us start crucial conversations at the local school level to ensure disciplinary practices are carried out fairly and equitably,” said Torlakson. “I encourage all local educational agencies to continue to collect and analyze their suspension and expulsion data to determine whether their current practices are meeting the needs of their students, keeping in mind that the objective is to keep as many students as possible in a learning environment. We encourage all districts and sites to continue to seek behavioral interventions and options other than suspension and expulsion as a means of addressing student behavior.”
Under state law, suspending or expelling students is the responsibility of the local school district. California is in the process of collecting more detailed student level data when reporting suspension and expulsion reports, as part of the state’s conversion to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System.
County and school district superintendents are required by state law every three years to develop Countywide Plans for Expelled Students and submit them to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. These plans outline educational alternatives for expelled students, identify gaps in educational services to them, and develop strategies for filling those service gaps. The plan also identifies alternative placements for expelled pupils in community day school programs, but who fail to meet the terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan, or who pose a danger to other students. The goals of the plan are to:
Ensure that expelled students have appropriate options, Decrease the dropout rate, Increase the graduation rate and
Close the achievement gap.
To view the OCR suspension and expulsion report, please visit New Data from U.S. Department of Education Highlights Educational Inequities Around Teacher Experience, Discipline and High School Rigor | U.S. Department of Education [http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-data-us-department-education-highlights-educational-inequities-around-teache] (Outside Source). For California’s suspension and expulsion report, please visit DataQuest. For California’s Countywide Plans for Expelled Students, please visit Countywide Plans for Expelled Students – Educational Options.