The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is taking steps to improve how information is gathered for the Civil Rights Data Collection by improving collaboration between the Office for Civil Rights and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the department announced Friday.
The new agreement has the NCES and OCR agencies supporting districts with technical assistance and training. The agencies will review the data collected and revise procedures as needed.
Over the past year, OCR has increased its funding to the agency’s technical assistance center so districts have more support in properly collecting the data and can then include that information in the improvement plans. By the end of the 2017-18 school year, 99.81% of school districts reported their CRDC data to the OCR, setting a new record.
While ED touts that it has resolved almost twice as many complaints per year as the department did under the Obama administration, advocates for students counter that there is still no systematic relief.
Data collection can help determine weaknesses in the system. For example, data collected under the Obama administration during the 2015-16 school year pointed to ongoing disparities in discipline that disfavor black students and students with disabilities. That data also showed fewer black students taking higher-level math and science courses than their white peers.
As school districts continue to focus on equity and reducing school segregation, 65 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against it in Brown vs Board of Education, this data is valuable. The collaboration also points to the importance of having accurate data for making decisions that affect students.