U.S. Department of Education releases 2017-18 civil rights data collection

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) on October 15. This data, which is self-reported by 17,604 public school districts and 97,632 public schools and educational programs, have been collected and published biennially by OCR since 1968.

“Protecting all students’ civil rights is the core mission of OCR, and in order to meet that challenge, we need reliable, accurate data and a true partnership with state education agencies and school districts,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “I’m proud of this administration’s commitment to working with schools and local districts to ensure students’ civil rights are protected, whether it be through our new Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN) Centre, or the significant steps we’ve taken to ensure CRDC data quality, including our partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).”

As a result of OCR’s partnership with NCES, announced in August 2019, the 2017-18 CRDC contains improved data quality in several categories.

Data quality reviews and technical enhancements included the organization of greater outreach to school districts with potentially anomalous restraint and seclusion data submissions; and allocation of additional technical support resources, clarifying proper understanding of reporting requirements, and working with school districts to ensure detailed written corrective plans were put into place when data was incomplete.

“The CRDC is an important aspect of OCR’s overall strategy for enforcing civil rights in the nation’s public schools and is an important tool in our work to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn in an environment that is free from discrimination,” said Kimberly M. Richey, acting assistant secretary for civil rights. “For the last three years, OCR has prioritized improving data validity and reliability so that the CRDC can be even more effective. Our increased data quality and improved collection efforts will benefit stakeholders, schools, families, and those who are committed to eliminating roadblocks to a quality education for all students.”

The CRDC is a universal collection of data related to OCR’s civil rights enforcement responsibilities at Pre-K through 12th grade levels, including charter schools, magnet schools or programs, alternative schools, schools serving students with disabilities, and long-term secure juvenile justice facilities.

The 2017-18 CRDC covers a broad array of topics and requires school districts and their schools to collect and input as many as 1,700 data points. Among the data collected, parents and students can find information on enrolment, various advanced placement and math courses offered, and gifted and talented programs, as well as data on school characteristics.