Civil rights data show rising discipline disparities for students of color
- Despite the implementation of Obama-era discipline guidance designed to protect vulnerable student populations, a school climate and safety report, drawn from the recently released Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2015-16, confirms that there are still significant disparities in how black students and students with disabilities are disciplined when compared to other student populations, Education Week reports.
- Since the last time data were collected in the 2013-14 school year, 100,000 fewer students were suspended out of school; however, the suspension gap between black and white students remains virtually the same. Black students and students with disabilities also now face police interactions at a higher rate than in the past.
- The data show that disparities also remain in the number of black students who take higher-level math and science courses and that there are significant increases in chronic absenteeism nationally, especially among black and Native American populations.
There is a tremendous amount of information to unpack in the Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2015-16 school year. The data relates to more than 50 million students attending more than 96,300 schools nationwide, which should supply researchers with a sufficient breadth of information for future study.
The preliminary take-aways from the data indicate that disproportionate discipline practices based on race remains an issue and that the debate over the best ways to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline is far from over. Despite Obama-era discipline guidance, which may be weakened under the current administration, the problem seems to have escalated to include more police involvement as out-of-school suspensions have decreased.
The new data also show that more than eight million students were chronically absent in 2015-16 compared with fewer than seven million students in the 2013-14 school year. The reasons behind these issues and the need to seek more effective solutions will likely fuel more research in the future, and the requirement within the Every Student Succeeds Act that states add a nonacademic indicator of student success will also keep these issues in the forefront for school administrators.