Data Accountability

It is widely known that significant disparities exist between the educational experiences of white students and students of color, and that these disparities are often more pronounced for male students of color. The last authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind) shone a light on the large differences in educational attainment for students of color with its mandate to disaggregate test scores by subgroups and requirements that all subgroups are meeting standards. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, in its 2009 data collection, greatly the increased the amount and types of data it collected from schools and districts in an effort to illuminate other issues of disparity for students of color, those with disabilities, and those in poverty. This includes more detailed information about suspensions, expulsions, access to college-preparatory coursework, and teacher characteristics.

We need to go a step further now and incorporate more of this data that is collected into the accountability structure that is a part of ESEA. At the national level, data collected should be used as a measuring stick to evaluate the health of our nation’s educational system. At the local level, this data should be used to guide planning for individual schools and the entire district. Education is a right that is afforded to all children and youth in this nation. We cannot allow for disparities in treatment, school culture, access to rigorous curriculum to exist as a part of our nation’s public school system. Schools receiving funds from the government to teach children and youth must be held to a standard assuring that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or disability, are treated equally and afforded the same opportunities to learn. Gathering and analyzing this data will enable everyone to see quite plainly the educational environment being afforded to students and provide sanctions or rewards.

COSEBOC believes that the following policy solutions would be helpful in advancing better use of data for the benefit of boys of color:

  1. Continue the Departmnent of Education's current effort to gather more detailed data on school discipline, access to college preparatory courses, and teacher characteristics that is disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and socioeconomic status.
  2. Require that all schools collect data and make it publicly available. This includes settings such as alternative schools, charter schools, and juvenile justice facilities.
  3. Incorporate requirements for the reporting of this detailed data into the reauthorization of ESEA, as well as competitive educational grant programs such as Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants that are designed to improve education for vulnerable populations.
  4. Set federal guidelines and expectations for states and districts to make improvements in their respective disparities in education, school discipline, coursework access, and teacher quality for high-minority schools. Expand the authority of the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to assure accountability.
  5. At the local level, require an annual review of data such as on school discipline, access to college preparatory courses, and teacher characteristics, at the district and individual school level by school stakeholders, including parents and students. Ensure the data is used to inform policy priorities and direction.
  6. Use data on teacher characteristics to inform professional development plans, hiring incentives, and teacher placement planning to expand the number of highly effective teachers educating boys of color.


Relevant Publications/Resources on School Data

Civil Rights Data Collection

Graduation Rate Mapping Tool - EPE Research Center

Accountability Statement for ESEA Reauthorization - A Joint Statement of Civil Rights Leaders