GAO Blasts USDE/OCR Data Collection on Restraints, Prompting Procedures Overhaul (August 31, 2019)

report made public on June 18, 2019 and revised on July 11, 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that the US Department of Education (USDE) knowingly and repeatedly uploaded incorrect data to the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which occurs every two years.  According to USDE figures, 70% of school districts reported no incidents of special education students being restrained or secluded in 2015-16. However, in nine of 10 large school districts that listed no incidents, the GAO found restraint or seclusion incidents that were not reported or no data was collected on them. Further, a system error in 2015-16 resulted in the final collection being released with either incomplete or no information for more than 400 of the nation’s 600 juvenile justice schools.

On August, 23, 2019, as a result of the GAO report USDE posted a press release announcing that the “Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will work collaboratively to improve the information collected in the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The partnership between OCR and NCES will help to ensure that the CRDC data is valid, reliable and authenticated in a manner that provides a more accurate picture of key civil rights issues in education.”

The need to make the data more reliable has become highly important, since states must now provide detailed report cards as per requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including civil rights data on such things as disciplinary disparities.