New US Dept. of Education Civil Rights Data Released

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights today released data about education equality in America’s schools that show disparities in rates of retention and discipline. The data was gathered from 6,800 districts that enroll 85% of the country’s K-12 population–about 42 million students. The survey, performed every 2 years since 1968, was completed during the 2009-10 academic year and for the first time includes data on grade retention (repeating a grade). The full data set is expected to be made public soon at ocrdata.ed.gov. For now, here’s a roundup of top-line results from an Office for Civil Rights summary:

  • Black students represent 18% of students in the data, but 46% of those suspended more than once and 39% of those expelled.
  • Black and Hispanic students represented more than 70% of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement.
  • Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions.
  • Nearly 1 million students, or 2.3%, were retained across K-12. Black students represent 16% of middle school students in the data but 42% of the middle school students who had to repeat a grade. English-language learners make up 6% of high school enrollment but 12% of students retained.

Retention in grade is a strong predictor of on-time high school graduation. In our evaluation, we found that City Connects students have significantly lower rates of retention than comparison students. The chart below shows that from kindergarten through grade 9, City Connects students identified as the most at-risk have lower probabilities of retention in every grade. The beneficial effect of City Connects persists after students leave the intervention in grade 5 and moved into middle school and beyond.

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