What is the Civil Rights Data Collection?
Since 1968, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has mandated the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The biennial survey collects data on civil rights indicators related to access and barriers to educational opportunities from preschool through 12th grade.
"The Civil Rights Data Collection provides crucial information for evaluating students' experiences in America's public schools,” ED Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a November 2021 press release.
The CRDC collects data about student access to educational courses and school staff, along with school climate factors, including student discipline and student harassment incidents. The OCR uses the CRDC data as part of its enforcement and monitoring strategy to ensure that those receiving ED funding do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and disability.
OCR uses CRDC data as it investigates discrimination complaints, determines whether federal civil rights laws have been violated, and provides policy guidance and technical assistance to educational institutions, parents, students, and others. The CRDC also is an important resource for policymakers, researches, educators, and anyone else in need of data on student equity and opportunity.
Data come from almost all public local education agencies (LEAs) and schools, including juvenile justice facilities, charter school, alternative schools, and schools serving students with disabilities.
Testifying in 2016 before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a group of ED leaders underlined the need for the CRDC. “Too often … students of color and students from low‐income families attend schools that are underfunded, inadequately staffed, and poorly resourced,” they said. “Moreover, these schools tend to be segregated by race and class, with student populations that are disproportionately comprised of students of color and students from low‐income families.
“The result is that … far too many poor students and students of color are relegated to under‐performing schools in which they are isolated by race and class from the rest of the world. Although we continue to make great strides in public education, we have much work to do to close the achievement gap for black students, Hispanic students, Native American students, and other historically disadvantaged students, including low‐income students.”
While the CRDC normally occurs every other school year, the OCR announced in August 2021 the administration of a 2021-22 CRDC, marking the first time it has conducted a CRDC in two consecutive years. The 2021-22 CRDC includes the addition of COVID-19 data elements intended to help OCR identify and address inequities in educational opportunities caused by the pandemic.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lhamon wrote in a November 2021 blog post. “CRDC collections have captured data suggesting that some students may have experienced gaps in educational resources, opportunities, and outcomes that OCR, and school communities should analyze and evaluate.
“The 2021-22 CRDC will serve as an important tool to understand the extent to which the pandemic impacted such gaps and/or affected student access to education in other ways. It will also assist the Department and school officials with assessing the initial impacts of federal funding awarded to schools and districts during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
All information from the U.S. Department of Education.