Tuesday, March 6, 2012

School of Hard Knocks: Fed Education Data Shows Racial Disparities, Unequal Opportunity


Schools serving the most black and Hispanic students are less likely to offer rigorous subjects such as calculus and physics and more likely to employ teachers with only a year or two of experience. Those findings come from a new data analysis by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Later today, the department will be releasing the survey data underlying this analysis — the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection, which contains a wide range of school-level statistics covering course offerings, teacher salaries and absenteeism, student discipline and student outcomes.

Among the findings highlighted by the Education Department:

  • Black students were more than three times as likely to be suspended or expelled relative to their white counterparts. Racial disparities in discipline, of course, have been reported before, but according to the department’s analysis, this trend held true across all districts in the sample.
  • White and Asian students were disproportionately overrepresented in gifted and talented programs -- comprising nearly three-quarters of enrollment in such programs -- while black and Hispanic students were disproportionately underrepresented.
  • Students with disabilities comprised only 12 percent of students in the sample, but were an overwhelming majority of students subjected to physical restraint.

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