Nov 15 2019

LPI Statement: Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection

To shed light on the extent to which inequities in opportunities to learn exist at the state and local levels, and inform the appropriate remedies, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights collects data on a variety of information pertaining to school resources and student experiences. This dataset has been collected every 2 years from all public schools and school districts in the United States since 1968 and provides valuable information for researchers, advocates, and policymakers. The Department is proposing the elimination of key questions related to educator experience and attendance, school funding, and children’s access to high-quality early childhood, preschool, and kindergarten programs.

The Department is proposing the elimination of key questions related to educator experience and attendance, school funding, and children’s access to high-quality early childhood, preschool, and kindergarten programs.

In this letter, submitted to the Department November 15, LPI explains why the loss of these data would negatively impact the availability of important information to the public, which uses them for a variety of purposes, including revealing inequities, effectively targeting resources, closing gaps in educational opportunities, and informing school improvement efforts.

These data are reported overall and disaggregated by race/ethnicity, disability status, gender, English learner status, and other student characteristics, which allows researchers and policymakers to monitor potential inequities in access to learning opportunities. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), many of these data are also included on state and local report cards providing useful information for parents, advocates, and practitioners. However, not all states and districts are currently reporting all of the data required under ESSA. Maintaining this information within the CRDC is critical to supporting state and district compliance with ESSA and to ensure that this information is easily accessible to the public.

This letter addresses the following areas of concern and key datasets proposed for elimination:

Student Access to Quality Teachers

Teachers are the school-based staff who spend the most time with students and research shows that their qualifications and experience matter for students’ learning opportunities, well-being, and academic outcomes. Key data the Department is proposing to eliminate address:

  • Teacher experience
  • Teacher chronic absenteeism

School Finance

Research shows that public schools in the United States are among the most inequitably funded of any in the industrialized world. These funding inequities result in differences in a student’s opportunity to learn, including access to quality instruction. To help reveal these inequities, the CRDC provides extensive school-level funding data, including information on teacher and other school personnel salaries, staff-to-student ratios, and personnel and non-personnel expenditures. Despite the importance of these data for revealing funding inequities, the Department is proposing to eliminate all school finance-related data, which addresses:

  • Teacher salaries
  • Staff Per-pupil ratios
  • Non-personnel and personnel expenditures

Children’s Access to Early Childhood Services and Programs

High-quality early childhood education can give children a strong start on the path that leads to college or a career, fostering meaningful advantages in school readiness as well as long-term benefits, such as lower rates of special education placement, reduced grade retention, and higher graduation rates. These benefits are especially pronounced for children experiencing poverty or those who are dual language learners. The Department proposes eliminating data on:

  • Access to ECE programs
  • ECE program coverage and cost to families
  • Equity and inclusion in early childhood education
  • Discipline Disparities