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A Persistent Divide: New Federal Data Explore Education Disparities

A deep gulf between the educational experiences of traditionally disadvantaged student groups and their peers on a broad range of indicators persists in U.S. public schools, according to new federal data. Here are some major highlights from the latest Civil Rights Data Collection—data on more than 50 million students collected from more than 99 percent of public schools and districts in the country during the 2013-14 school year.


School Discipline

The number of K-12 students who received at least one out-of-school suspension dropped by nearly 20 percent since the 2011-12 school year, but disparities persist.

  • 6 percent of all K-12 students were suspended in 2013-14. The suspension rate was 18 percent for black boys, 10 percent for black girls, 5 percent for white boys, and 2 percent for white girls.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native, Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and multiracial boys are also disproportionately suspended from school, representing 15% of K-12 students but 19% of K-12 students receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.
  • Students with disabilities served by IDEA are more than twice as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as students without disabilities.
  • Black boys represent 8% of all students, but 19% of students expelled without educational services.
  • Black children made up 19 percent of preschool enrollment, but 47 percent of suspended preschool children. By comparison, white children made up 41 percent of enrollment but 28 percent of children suspended.


Access to Advanced Coursework

High-level math and science classes were not universally, or equally, offered in the nation’s high schools in 2013-14.

  • 33% of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment* offer calculus, compared to 56% of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
  • 48% of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment* offer physics, compared to 67% of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
  • 65% of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment* offer chemistry, compared to 78% of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
  • 71% of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment* offer Algebra II, compared to 84% of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
  • Black and Latino students represent 38% of students in schools that offer AP courses, but 29% of students enrolled in at least one Advance Placement course.
* “High/low black and Latino student enrollment” refers to schools with more than 75 percent and less than 25 percent black and Latino student enrollment, respectively.


Chronic Student Absenteeism

About 13 percent of all U.S. students—more than 6 million—missed at least 15 days of school in the 2013-14 school year.

  • 20% or more of American Indian or Alaska Native (26%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (25%), black (22%), multiracial (21%), and Latino (20%) high school students are chronically absent.
  • High school students with disabilities served by IDEA are 1.3 times as likely to be chronically absent as high school students without disabilities.
  • 20% of all English-language-learner high school students are chronically absent.


Teacher Absenteeism

Nationally, 27 percent of pre-K-12 teachers were absent for more than 10 school days in the 2013-14 school year.


Sources: U.S. Department of Education and Education Week Research Center


Teacher/Staffing Equity

Black, Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native students are more likely to attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers.

  • 11% of black students, 9% of Latino students, and 7% of American Indian or Alaska Native students attend schools where more than 20% of teachers are in their first year of teaching, compared to 5% of white students and 4% of Asian students.
  • 10% of teachers in schools with high black and Latino student enrollment* are in their first year of teaching, compared to 5% of teachers in schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
* “High/low black and Latino student enrollment” refers to schools with more than 75 percent and less than 25 percent black and Latino student enrollment, respectively.

Sources: Civil Rights Data Collection and U.S. Department of Education | Reporting: Education Week | Design: Francis Sheehan and Sumi Bannerjee

Vol. 35, Issue 36, Page 12

Published in Print: July 20, 2016, as A Persistent Divide
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