Annual Report to Congress FY 2005
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Promoting Innovative Programs and Informed Parental Choice
Magnet Schools Assistance Program
The Magnet Schools Assistance program (MSAP), administered by the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement, provides financial assistance to school districts seeking to improve educational programs and to reduce, prevent, or eliminate minority group isolation. The program provides three-year grants for the enhancement or establishment of magnet schools. The assistant secretary for civil rights is required to certify that grant applicant school districts will meet nondiscrimination assurances specified in the MSAP statute. OCR also assesses whether grant applicants' MSAP plans are consistent with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Americans can proudly say that we have overcome the institutionalized bigotry that Dr. King fought. Now our challenge is to make sure that every child has a fair chance to succeed in life. That is why education is the great civil rights issue of our time.
During FY 2005, OCR provided technical assistance and certified new three-year awards for two school districts. OCR also reviewed and certified the annual reports of 50 districts already receiving MSAP assistance. In addition, OCR provided technical assistance to several MSAP recipients in complying with civil rights statutes, as well as program goals.Information for Parents and Recipients
Providing timely, accessible information for parents, students, teachers, and education decision- makers is another important priority. OCR uses technology to improve customers’ access to OCR information through its Web site (www.ed.gov/ocr).
OCR's former biennial Elementary and Secondary Schools Survey has now been merged with the Department's Educational Data Exchange Network (EDEN), a central repository of information on K-12 programs, including No Child Left Behind Act data. Civil rights data for 2004 was collected through the Supplemental Survey Tool Civil Rights Data Collection. The 2004 Data Collection is the first use of the Supplemental Survey Tool, which will assist EDEN in developing a data system with the capability to collect district- and school-level data from school districts and integrate civil rights and other data with the EDEN database, including essential No Child Left Behind Act data.
The Civil Rights Data Collection is primarily Web-based. For the 2004 Civil Rights Data Collection, the initial year of the Web-based data collection, approximately two-thirds of the districts reporting (4,000 out of 6,000) were successful in using the new Web-based tool to report their data (the other districts opted to use more traditional media, such as CD-ROMs or paper forms, to report their 2004 data.) The overall response rate to the 2004 Data Collection, 95 percent of all surveyed districts and 100 percent of large and intermediate districts, is consistent with the response rate for previous OCR surveys. The information obtained from this Data Collection will help school administrators and researchers evaluate schools and aid parents in making informed choices.
Postsecondary Accessibility Reviews
OCR has initiated a number of accessibility reviews focused on eliminating barriers for postsecondary students who have physical disabilities. For example, OCR reviewed a college’s on-campus student housing and science laboratory programs and identified numerous accessibility concerns in both areas. In response to OCR’s findings, the college has successfully modified four apartments to make them accessible and created accessible parking spaces and an accessible route to the building. Further building modifications will be initiated to make the science laboratory facilities accessible.
OCR conducted a compliance review of a college to determine whether its programs and activities were readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments. Based on OCR’s findings, the college agreed to make structural and parking modifications at two of its campus centers, implement comprehensive procedures to ensure that individuals with mobility impairments have physical access to the college's programs and activities, and train college staff on these procedures.