Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 9
Data Is in: Equity Still Elusive for Schools
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course? Or is it because there's some amount
of discrimination going on?" asked Joshua
Goodman, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School.
"I take this as a sign that there is a major
challenge, though it doesn't help pinpoint the
root causes of the challenge."
An initial analysis of the data by the Education Week Research Center also finds nearly
8 million students were reported "chronically
absent" from school in 2015-16, meaning they
missed 15 days of school or more. That represents 16 percent of all K-12 public school students, up from fewer than 7 million students
who missed that much school in 2013-14, when
the data was first measured at the federal level.
While a series of fatal school shootings
this year has sparked protests and debates
about gun violence and school safety, the
first federal education data on "serious
crimes" suggest shooting incidents remain
rare on school grounds. Fewer than 240
schools-or one-fifth of 1 percent of more
than 96,300 schools-reported at least one
The majority of public schools-55 percent-reported no serious incidents in 201516, according to an Education Week Research
Center analysis. Among serious crimes on
campus, more than a million involved fights,
robberies, or threats with no weapon at all. By
contrast, a little more than 34,000 included
a weapon, and less than a third of those involved guns or explosives. Serious errors have
been found in data in some categories, including sexual assaults and rapes.
As in prior years, sex-based bullying accounted for the largest portion, 41 percent, of the 135,600 reported incidents of
harassment in K-12, and girls made up a
disproportionate number of those targeted,
at 63 percent. That includes both bullying
with a sexual component, such as groping
or sexual threats, and bullying based on a
But for the first time, in 2015-16 the civil
rights office also separated out harassment
based on a student's real or perceived sexual
orientation; these accounted for 16 percent
of all reported bullying incidents.
Both the profile and the stakes for the civil
rights data have never been higher.
Under the federal K-12 education law, the
Every Student Succeeds Act, every state and
district must report on a variety of civil rights
indicators as part of its annual report card,
and 36 states have opted to use school absenteeism as an additional indicator of school
quality under ESSA.
When Donald Trump was elected president, there were widespread fears that his
administration would scrap the civil rights
data collection, which has been in place
since 1968. But DeVos has no plans to do
so; in a statement last week, she praised
the data collection and said, "Protecting all
students' civil rights is at the core of the Department's mission."
Yet DeVos has spoken less about the data
than President Obama's two education secre-
Math, Science Gaps Persist, Data Show
By Stephen Sawchuk
Disparities in the proportion of
black and Latino students who take
algebra early in their careers compared with their peers-as well as in
calculus, physics, and other advanced
courses-are raising fresh questions
about the origin of those gaps and the
best way to eradicate them.
Are the gaps primarily due to racism? Tracking? A symptom of ongoing teacher shortages? And where do
solutions need to be targeted?
"If you are not preparing students
to think algebraically, you are losing
the game before it even starts," said
Michelle Stie, the vice president of
teaching and learning for the National Math and Science Initiative,
a nonprofit providing training and
curriculum support. "If you start with
the premise that STEM (science,
technology, engineering, and math)
is a lever to accessing further opportunity, where does the school access
those resources and get the support
to access them?"
Data released last week from the
U.S. Department of Education's office
for civil rights show that the proportion of students of color who take
high-level math and science courses
continues to trail that of their white
peers-jeopardizing those minority
students' ability to master the knowledge they need to secure a collegepreparatory diploma. And the segregation of American high schools
seems to be a factor in students'
access to those types of courses.
The data reflect the 2015-16 school
year and were submitted by nearly
every public school in the United
Disparities were stark for some
of the most advanced classes. Black
students made up 16 percent of high
school enrollment, but just 12 percent
of physics enrollment and 8 percent
of calculus enrollment. Latino students made up 24 percent of high
school enrollment, but represented
16 percent of students enrolled in calculus and 19 percent of those in advanced mathematics. (That term excludes calculus but includes courses
beyond Algebra 2.)
A Gateway Shut
The data highlight gaps between
white and Asian students and their
black peers that open up even before students reach high school, in
Algebra 1, considered a fundamental
"gateway" math course.
White students and Asian students
were disproportionately likely to be
enrolled in Algebra 1 in grade 8-and
of those, 85 percent of white students
and 74 percent of Asian students
passed the course. But black and Native American students were all disproportionately likely to take Algebra
1 in high school rather than in grade
8-and they were overrepresented in
those classes in junior or senior year,
which would make it next to impossible to fit in multiple advanced-math
courses before graduation.
Native American students are just 1
percent of the overall high school population, yet they made up 2 percent
of those enrolled in Algebra 1 in 11th
and 12th grades-a damning statistic.
Research indicates that forcing students to take Algebra 1 before they're
ready can be harmful. But it's not
clear whether these patterns reflect
well-founded decisionmaking or policy beset by racism, or a combination.
"Is it because they've correctly assessed students' ability and put them
in the appropriate course? Or is it
because there's some amount of discrimination going on?" said Joshua
Goodman, an associate professor of
public policy at Harvard's Kennedy
School. "I take this as a sign that
there is a major challenge, though it
doesn't help pinpoint the root causes
of the challenge."
Some experts also pointed to prob-
taries-Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr.-
who often referred to it to make the case for
their policies. In 2014, the Obama administration cited higher-than-average suspension and
expulsion rates for students of color to support
guidance that sought to shrink discipline disparities. The Trump administration is now
deciding whether to ditch, revise, or keep that
Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of The
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights, called the data "deeply disturbing"
and said it helped make the case for keeping
the Obama-era guidance.
In contrast, Max Eden, a senior fellow at
the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, who is
skeptical of the Obama administration's discipline guidance, said suspension numbers have
gone down, possibly in response to pressure on
school leaders to curtail-as law enforcement
referrals have gone up.
"That doesn't sound like a good trade-off to
me," Eden said. "That might broadly reflect
that principals and teachers have less authority to maintain discipline in their classrooms."
lems in students' math preparation.
Too few students are introduced to
algebraic thinking and problem solving in elementary and middle school,
and when they struggle and have to
repeat algebra, it's usually taught the
same way, said Stie of the math and
"It's like hitting your finger with
a hammer over and over again," she
said. "I think those are two important
reasons why kids struggle."
School Composition Matters
For upper-level-math coursework,
it's likely that school composition
has a relationship to what classes
are offered. About 5,000 high schools,
the data show, had high levels of Latino or black enrollment (defined as
schools with more than 75 percent
black and Latino student populations). And they offered advanced
math and science at lower rates than
other high schools.
The largest disparity was for calculus, which half of all high schools
offered, but only 38 percent of these
highly segregated high schools did.
Generally, research shows that taking more high school math and science courses improves the odds that
students will go on to take them in
college-though expanding the number of high school courses offered isn't
a guarantee that students will take
them. That could be the result of differing expectations and within-school
tracking that many students of color
face, even when they are academically capable of succeeding in challenging courses.
The new data also contains new
information on how high school
math and science classes are being
taught-for example, on the number
taught by teachers with the appropriate certification. Those data were not
included in the Education Department's initial takeaways this week.
But a preliminary analysis of the
Staff writers Corey Mitchell and Stephen Sawchuk
and Research Analyst Alex Harwin contributed to
ACCESSING KEY MATH, SCIENCE 'GATEWAYS'
New federal civil rights data show gaps in whether and when
students of different racial groups take math and science courses
considered critical to college readiness. For example, black, Latino,
and Native American students are likelier than students of other
racial groups to take Algebra I late in their high school careers.
Percentage distribution of students enrolled in high school
mathematics and science courses, by race
Grade 9-10 1
Algebra II 1
American Indian or Alaska Native
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino of any race
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
Two or more races
Note: Data may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Data Collection, 2015-16
civil rights data by the Education
Week Research Center suggests
that perhaps as many as 1 in 5 Algebra 1 and geometry classes are
taught by teachers who lack a certificate in the field.
That squares with Stie's experience,
too. Many schools she visits say they
just don't have a teacher available to
take on advanced courses.
"Schools that don't offer advanced
courses tend to put algebra late.
That could be because you have a
teacher-talent gap or you don't have
the teacher prepared with the proper
pedagogical content knowledge," she
said. "You can't offer the course if you
don't have the teacher."
EDUCATION WEEK | May 2, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 9
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - May 2, 2018
Education Week - May 2, 2018
Why Raising Teacher Pay Is So Difficult
Where K-12 Salaries Lag Home Prices, Districts Try to Help
Museums, Teachers Team Up on Science
Disparities Grow for Students of Color, Federal Data Show
News in Brief
Teachers Reach Across State Lines For Help Planning Protests
Quality Crucial to Sustained Pre-K Benefits, Studies Stress
Pearson Tests Growth-Mindset Messages In Software
Spec. Ed.Community Assesses Legal Impact After Landmark Case
Florida, California Revamp ESSA Plans In Quest for Federal OK
Where Do States Line Up on Aid for Title I, Title II?
Mike Schmoker: Why I’m Against Innovation in Education
Nicholas Brake: Want to Support Public Schools? Stop Cutting Taxes
Donald Sheldon: I’m an Arizona Teacher. This Is Why I Walked Out
Ted Dintersmith: What’s Actually Going on in Classrooms?
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Disparities Grow for Students of Color, Federal Data Show
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 2
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - News in Brief
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 5
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Teachers Reach Across State Lines For Help Planning Protests
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Quality Crucial to Sustained Pre-K Benefits, Studies Stress
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Pearson Tests Growth-Mindset Messages In Software
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 9
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 10
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 11
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 12
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 13
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Spec. Ed.Community Assesses Legal Impact After Landmark Case
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Where Do States Line Up on Aid for Title I, Title II?
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 16
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 17
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Nicholas Brake: Want to Support Public Schools? Stop Cutting Taxes
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Donald Sheldon: I’m an Arizona Teacher. This Is Why I Walked Out
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 21
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 22
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - 23
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - Ted Dintersmith: What’s Actually Going on in Classrooms?
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - May 2, 2018 - CW4