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Major Gaps Remain In Educational Equity

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently unveiled new data from the 2013-2014 school year showing significant gaps in key areas affecting educational equity and opportunity for students. These include incidents of discipline, restraint and seclusion, access to courses and programs that lead to college and career readiness, teacher equity, rates of retention, and access to early learning.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said data from all public schools and school districts nationwide for the 2013-14 school year highlight the need for a continued focus on educational equity, especially in the implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act. The CRDC, which collected student absenteeism rates for the first time, revealed that 6.5 million students – 13 percent of all students – were chronically absent from schools in 2013-14.

Progress was shown in decreased out-of-school suspensions by nearly 20 percent since 2011-12, as more schools find alternative ways of addressing non-violent student behavior. However, the data show, that, in general, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities are, on average, still are disciplined more often than their classmates.

“The CRDC data are more than numbers and charts – they illustrate in powerful and troubling ways disparities in opportunities and experiences that different groups of students have in our schools,” said King. “The stories the CRDC data tell us create the imperative for a continued call to action to do better and close achievement and opportunity gaps.”

King said the new Every Student Succeeds Act makes clear the obligation that schools and states have to ensure better access to excellent education for all students. Key data points showed that in kindergarten through the 12th grade, Black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended as are White students. Black students also are nearly twice as likely to be expelled – removed from school with no services – as are White students.

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