U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights releases pandemic data

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released new civil rights data from the 2020–21 school year, revealing stark inequities in students’ access to educational opportunities during the pandemic.

The data, covers various civil rights indicators, including courses and programs, school staff, and student discipline. The OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a mandatory survey that, despite being generally collected biennially, was paused during the pandemic and contains information from over 17,000 school districts and 97,000 schools.

The 2020–21 CRDC exposes troubling differences in students’ experiences, such as disparities in course offerings, enrollment rates, and disciplinary outcomes. High schools with high enrollments of Black and Latino students offered fewer courses in critical subjects like mathematics, science, and computer science. Moreover, students with disabilities and English learners had lower enrollment rates in mathematics and science courses compared to their peers. The data also shed light on issues of harassment, bullying, school offenses, and discipline, indicating disproportionate outcomes based on race, sex, and disability. The release of this information coincides with the launch of a redesigned CRDC website, offering historical civil rights data from 1968 to 1998 and providing critical insights into the challenges faced by students in the U.S. education system.

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