Education News in Brief

New Civil Rights Rules Unveiled

By Mary Ann Zehr — March 30, 2010 1 min read

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that, for the 2009-10 school year, districts will have to collect data in several new categories that relate to students’ civil rights. The data for many of the new categories must be broken out to show how they apply to students of different races and ethnic backgrounds, students with disabilities, male and female students, and English-language learners.

The announcement came less than two weeks after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a speech that the Obama administration planned to step up enforcement of civil rights laws in schools. (“Duncan Vows Tougher Civil Rights Action,” March 17, 2010.)

New categories for which student-participation data must be reported by race and gender include Advanced Placement courses, act and sat college-admissions tests, math and science courses, International Baccalaureate programs, and General Educational Development (GED) programs.

To continue receiving federal funds, districts must also disaggregate data on student retention; harassment and bullying; and restraint and seclusion, which involves actions such as temporarily removing a student from an activity.

The survey sample for 2009-10 will be 7,000 school districts, among them, all districts with more than 3,000 students. Districts were scheduled to start collecting data for the first part of the new survey at the end of this month.

Districts will have the option of using either the five traditional race and ethnicity categories for the disaggregation of data or seven new categories, which include the option of selecting two or more races.

The Education Department also has launched a new Web site, ocrdata.ed.gov, that aims to make schools civil rights data more accessible.

A version of this article appeared in the March 31, 2010 edition of Education Week as New Civil Rights Rules Unveiled