Civil Rights Data Collection
Connecting With the Field
Federal Student Aid
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Civil Rights Data Collection
On October 15, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). This data, reported by 17,604 public school districts and 97,632 public schools and educational programs, has been collected and published biennially by OCR since 1968. The CRDC is a universal compilation of data related to OCR's civil rights enforcement responsibilities at the PK-12 level, including charter schools, magnet programs, alternative schools, schools serving students with dis-abilities, and long-term juvenile justice facilities.
The 2017-18 CRDC covers a broad array of topics and requires districts and their schools to collect and input as many as 1,700 data points.
As a result of OCR's critical partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), announced in August 2019, the 2017-18 CRDC has improved data quality in many categories. It was improved over past collections by addressing statistical anomalies and increasing post-collection outreach in order to give districts an opportunity to submit amended, accurate data. Data quality reviews and technical enhancements included the following:
- Conducting greater outreach to districts with potentially anomalous restraint and seclusion data submissions; and
- Allocating additional technical support resources, clarifying proper understanding of reporting requirements, and working with districts to ensure detailed written corrective plans were put into place when data was incomplete.
The CRDC web site features many useful tools, including tables and charts, that display a district's or school's data about key issues for the current CRDC and/or multiple prior collections at the same time. This year, the Department modernized the site's user interface and infrastructure, making it look and function better than ever before. Now, all content will be accurately displayed on all types of devices (e.g., phones, tablets, and desktops).
Furthermore, OCR released two issue briefs on topics about which Secretary DeVos has raised concerns: use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities and sexual violence in K-12 schools.
Connecting With the Field
With visits, calls, and virtual showcases, Secretary DeVos and Department senior officials are promoting safely reopening schools and expanding educational options for students and families.
Last week, in North Carolina, Secretary DeVos participated in a roundtable discussion on school choice in Raleigh, then visited Jenkins Elementary School in Hickory and Piedmont Community Charter School in Gastonia.
Also last week, the Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha, Wisconsin, hearing from parents who had moved children to private schools for in-person instruction.
Additionally, with U.S. Senator Tim Scott and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Secretary joined an October 9 call with African-American leaders concerning the importance of educational freedom and providing more opportunities for students of color (readout).
This week, the Secretary visited International Leadership of Texas' K-8 and high schools in Garland and Arizona's Phoenix International Academy (joined by Governor Doug Ducey).
Separately, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan visited Lancaster Catholic High School in Pennsylvania on October 8, between hosting interactive virtual showcases with Cardinal Community Schools in Iowa (joined by Governor Kim Reynolds) and Illini Bluffs School District in Illinois on October 7 and Conemaugh Township Elementary School in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, and Central Elementary School in Logan, Ohio, on October 14.
Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump also hosted a virtual showcase, with Westminster High School in Colorado, on October 15.
The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to release guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19. Many of the latest documents are listed below. Please visit the Department's COVID-19 information and resources web page for the most current information, and any questions for the Department may be directed to COVIDemail@example.com.
- Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/Coronavirus, and USA.gov/Coronavirus
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Considerations for Testing for K-12 School Administrators and Public Health Officials (updated October 13, 2020) and Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education (updated October 5, 2020)
- Providing Equitable Services to Students and Teachers in Non-Public Schools under Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Programs (revising past guidance to align with court decisions)
- Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) summer webinar series recordings (including the "Successful Strategies for School Reopening Roundtable" from September 23)
- Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund Frequently Asked Questions — Round #3
- HEER Fund reporting and data collection web page
- Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) COVID-19 Title IV Frequently Asked Questions (updated October 5, 2020)
- Note from AASA: The School Superintendents Association that districts can request cloth masks — distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to states for schools — from their state health agencies
- Trump Administration Extends Free Meals for Kids for Entire School Year
- Trump Administration Invests $72 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Infrastructure in 40 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Meanwhile, on October 5, President Trump signed an executive order to address the negative impact of prolonged shutdowns on mental and behavioral health and increase suicide prevention efforts (fact sheet). Through the order, the President is establishing a Cabinet-level working group to assess the mental health needs of the most vulnerable, including children. Secretary DeVos issued a statement of gratitude, noting "Students need safe in-person support groups and mentorships now more than ever."
Federal Student Aid
As previously spotlighted, the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) launched on October 1. New and returning students who plan to attend college between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. To assist borrowers in the process, the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has been sharing tips @FAFSA, and new blogs detail "11 Common FAFSA Mistakes" and "How to Fill Out the FAFSA Form When You Have More Than One Child in College." (Note: More than a million students have already submitted their 2021-22 FAFSA.)
Another blog outlines "6 Things to Know About Public Service Loan Forgiveness During the COVID-19 National Emergency."
Moreover, students, families, and the community at large are invited to a virtual Financial Aid Bootcamp (October 20 and 21) designed to help participants learn about the FAFSA form, the federal financial aid process, and FSA tools and resources.
On October 9, Secretary DeVos announced the appointment of five leaders to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). This year's slate includes four new members and one reappointed member. They will help define and objectively measure student performance in nearly a dozen academic subjects by setting policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card.
Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has been reappointed as chair for a second year. The new board members are Suzanne Lane, testing and measurement expert; Alice Peisch, Democratic state legislator; Julia Rafal-Baer, general public representative; Ron Reynolds, non-public school administrator/policymaker; and Mark White, Republican state legislator. The appointees' terms began on October 1, 2020, and will end on September 30, 2024.
In related news, according to a notice in the Federal Register, the NAEP will be administered this school year in its traditional format but have a smaller testing population and not include national-only assessments for eighth-grade U.S. history and civics and the age 17 long-term trend.
Odds and Ends
- On the Homeroom blog, Dr. Derek Voices, an assistant principal at Lincoln Heights Middle School in Morristown, Tennessee, explains: "Making School Work."
- In letters signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary DeVos, American K-12 schools and institutions of higher education are encouraged to rethink their ties with the Confucius Institute, a program that provides language classes but invites a "malign influence" from China.
- Secretary DeVos announced more than $131 million in new grant funding to create and expand hundreds of high-quality public charter schools across the country, providing relief to the millions of families currently on long waiting lists to attend a charter school.
- A staff video affirms the diversity of Hispanic culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
- NCES released a new set of web tables covering postsecondary graduation rates, outcome measures, student financial aid, and admissions.
- The National Comprehensive Center launched a new web site with resources to support all states and school districts. The National Center also released the Native Education Collaborative, a collection of resources to connect states, tribal representatives, districts, and schools to foster environments where Native students thrive.
- An OPE electronic announcement addresses the rescission of and replacement for the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, as well as identifies and explains the major changes between the 2016 edition and the new Clery Act-related Appendix of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Handbook.
- The Department of Labor's "Discover Apprenticeship" campaign is part of the broader $858 million investment since 2017 to grow apprenticeship programs in the U.S. and advance the Administration's commitment to add one million new apprentices by September 2021.
Quote to Note
"Protecting all students’ civil rights is at the core of OCR’s mission, and, in order to meet that challenge, we need reliable, accurate data and a true partnership with State Education Agencies and school districts. I’m proud of this administration’s commitment to working with schools and local districts to ensure students’ civil rights are protected, whether it be through our new Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-Discrimination (OPEN) Center or the significant steps we’ve taken to ensure CRDC data quality, including our partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). While self-reported data poses challenges, the quality assurance measures we have put into place help make this data more re-liable than ever before."
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (10/15/20), in a statement on the release of the 2017-18 CRDC
All are welcome to join the Department's International Affairs Office on October 21 (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern Time) for its next "learning from and with other countries" seminar, looking at digital education in the U.S. and Germany.
"Attract, Prepare, Retain," the Office of Special Education Programs' (OSEP) National Summit on Improving Effective Personnel for Children with Disabilities, will be held virtually October 27-29. Participants may register for each session — attracting effective personnel (10/27, 3-4:30 p.m. ET), preparing effective personnel (10/28, 3-4:30 p.m. ET), and retaining effective personnel (10/29, 3-4:30 p.m. ET) — or join all three. Each will be hosted by OSEP Director Laurie VanderPloeg and offer an expert from a field outside of education, a panel discussion with practitioners and researchers, leverage points for special education, and a summary from a leader in the field.
Registration is open for the virtual 2020 FSA Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals (December 1-4).
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