Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced in a letter to school superintendents that it will administer a 2021-22 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), marking the first time that OCR has conducted a CRDC, including all public school districts and their schools, two years in a row, for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The additional collection will help advance equity at a time when the nation’s educational landscape has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and schools are receiving substantial new federal funding to address new and longstanding challenges. Data from the CRDC will inform ongoing decisions regarding additional support that schools, educators, and students need to succeed, and will also assist OCR in meeting its mission to ensure schools and districts are complying with civil rights laws.
“Without timely and robust data about students’ educational experiences, we cannot begin to understand and then address the impact that the pandemic has had – and continues to have – on student learning and success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We know that by working together, and by making this data available to educators and the public, we will improve educational opportunities and outcomes for our children and youth.”
The CRDC gathers and publishes key information about student access to educational courses as well as school climate factors, such as use of discipline and student experiences of harassment and assault, from nearly every public school serving students from pre-K through 12th grade in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
“Understanding the impact of the pandemic on students is a critical step to helping them get back on track. This is particularly important in light of reports showing that the pandemic worsened achievement gaps across the country. I applaud the Education Department for taking proactive steps to better understand how the pandemic has affected students and for their effort to examine the disproportionate impact on students of color. Earlier this year, Congress and the Biden Administration made a historic investment in students and schools through the American Rescue Plan. This data will be a vital tool to help schools target resources where they are needed most,” said House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman, U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03).
“I’m glad to see Secretary Cardona’s commitment to collecting robust, quality data on students’ educational experiences,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. “As we build back better from this pandemic, we must work to ensure that all of our students receive an equitable and high-quality education, free from discrimination and harassment – but unfortunately, for too many students, that’s not the case. So it’s critical that we collect data to identify longstanding inequities in our education system in order to address them. I’m glad to have the Department of Education committed to building an education system where every student can thrive, no matter their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability status.”
Today’s announcement ensures that the Department and the public will have the data necessary to better understand the experiences of students as the country continues to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19, especially after the pandemic-related postponement of the 2019-20 CRDC. Recognizing the critical work of school administrators, teachers, specialists, and support staff in ensuring that all students have equal access to education, the Department will continue to provide robust resources to support state educational agencies, districts, and schools in preparing for and completing the ongoing 2020-21 collection, as well as the collection for the 2021–22 school year.