U.S. Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Shows Student Access to Education Amid Pandemic

The U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today the release of new civil rights data from the 2020–21 school year. This data provides valuable insights into civil rights indicators during the pandemic year. In addition to this release, OCR also published seven data reports and snapshots, including “A First Look: Students’ Access to Educational Opportunities in the Nation’s Public Schools,” which offers an overview of the data and information.

According to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, equitable educational opportunities are essential for nurturing talent and creativity in America. However, the data repeatedly shows that students’ race, sex, or disability significantly impact their access to various educational resources. The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to promoting equity for underserved students through historic investments in education. They will continue to collaborate with states, districts, and schools to provide all students with access to high-quality education in safe and inclusive learning environments.

OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a mandatory survey that collects data from public schools serving students from preschool to grade 12. The purpose of the CRDC is to provide crucial information about students’ equal educational opportunities as required by federal civil rights laws. While the CRDC is typically collected every two years, the 2020-21 CRDC is the first published since 2017-18 due to the pandemic. The 2020-21 CRDC includes data from over 17,000 school districts and over 97,000 schools, covering student enrollment, course access, teachers and staff, internet and devices, and school climate factors such as discipline and offenses.

The 2020-21 CRDC reveals significant inequities in education access nationwide. High schools with a high proportion of Black and Latino students offered fewer mathematics, science, and computer science courses compared to schools with fewer such students. English learner students and students with disabilities had lower enrollment rates in mathematics and science courses compared to all high school students.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon emphasized the troubling disparities highlighted in the new CRDC data. She reiterated OCR’s commitment to working with schools to ensure full civil rights protections as mandated by federal law.

As part of this release, OCR also launched a redesigned CRDC website that includes an archival tool for accessing historical civil rights data from 1968 to 1998. The 2020-21 CRDC public-use data file, reports, and snapshots are available on the Department’s redesigned CRDC website. More reports and snapshots will be posted periodically.

The key data points from the 2020-21 CRDC are as follows:

– K-12 students reported over 42,500 harassment or bullying allegations based on sex, sexual orientation, race, disability, or religion.
– Student reports of harassment or bullying varied by race and sex. Black and White

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