Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Office of Civil Rights report

Civil Rights Data Collection
Minority students across the country face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous coursework, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less-experienced teachers, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

A national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation’s students illuminates gaping discrepancies among student groups related to college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, student retention, and teacher quality.

The key findings include the following:
  • Black students, particularly boys, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students represent 18 percent of the students in the survey sample, but constitute 35 percent of the students suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended multiple times, and 39 percent of those expelled.
  • Sixty-five percent of high-minority high schools offer Algebra II, compared to 82 percent of high schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment. Similarly, only 29 percent of high-minority high schools offer Calculus, compared to 55 percent of low-minority schools.
  • Although black and Hispanic students make up 44 percent of the student population in districts offering gifted and talented programs, they represent only 26 percent of the students enrolled in those programs.
  • Black students represent 16 percent of middle school students, but 42 percent of students in those grades who are held back a year.
  • Teachers in high-minority schools are paid on average $2,251 less per year than their colleagues teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.
In some ways the survey data over simplify complex issues.  For example,  under representation in advanced  math classes and gifted and talented programs.  This is a real issue.  At the same time, were the students prepared for the advanced classes?  This kind of data may reveal as much about low achievement in math and science in the elementary school years as it does enrollment in advanced classes.   See particularly Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project by Robert P. Moses and Charles E. Cobb Jr. 
Teachers in in high minority schools are paid less than their colleagues teaching in low minority schools.
Perhaps a consequence of large numbers of new teachers in high minority schools where the turn over is high.  These are issues that can be worked on.  

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