Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, Christian Science Monitor, June 30, 2011
To better diagnose achievement gaps and help education leaders tailor solutions, federal civil rights officials on Thursday released an expanded, searchable set of information–drawn from schools in more than 7,000 districts and representing at least three-quarters of American students.
The survey’s data show, as never before, the education inequities that hold various groups of students back.
For example, in 3,000 high schools, math classes don’t go higher than Algebra I, and in 7,300 schools, students had no access to calculus. Schools serving mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers as are schools serving mostly whites in the same district.
The data can show inequities between nearby districts, as well as inequities within districts.
In Boston, for instance, where nearly 80 percent of students are black or Hispanic, 13 percent of teachers are in their first or second year of teaching. In the nearby suburb of Wellesley, Mass., where 81 percent of students are white, 4 percent of teachers are new to the field.
About 1 out of 5 white students in Boston is enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement (college-level) course, compared with 1 out of 12 for both African-Americans and Hispanics. Wellesley has racial disparities as well. There, nearly 1 out of 4 white students are in AP. For Hispanics, it’s 1 out of 6. Black students are 4 percent of the Wellesley district, but not a single black student is in an AP class, according to 2009 data.
Part 2 of the new data set will be released this fall and will include information on AP test results, teacher absenteeism, and incidents of harassment and bullying. The data will also shed more light on which students are disciplined in various ways, and how much schools use restraint and seclusion–issues that have raised civil rights concerns in recent years.