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Enhanced Tracking Of School Discipline On The Way

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A week after announcing an enhanced effort to crack down on civil rights violations in the nation’s schools, the Department of Education says it will begin collecting new data on the use of restraint and seclusion as well as a host of other issues.

The data collection effort from the department’s Office of Civil Rights is an enhancement of the Civil Rights Data Collection, or CRDC, survey. Beginning with the 2009-10 school year, schools will be asked for the first time for information about restraint and seclusion and other disciplinary efforts in addition to harassment, teacher absenteeism and participation in college preparation programs, among other issues.

Once collected, the data will be available on a new Web site, officials said, where visitors can currently find information from past surveys.

“Getting relevant, accurate and accessible data is a prerequisite to critical analysis and good decision-making,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Our hope and expectation is that by ensuring that the data collected by the CRDC covers the critical issues in civil rights in education, the department and all stakeholders will have the information they need to ensure that school districts and schools are living up to the promise of providing equal educational opportunity.”

The survey — which will be conducted in March and October 2010 — will include the nation’s 7,000 school districts with enrollments of more than 3,000 students each.

The new data collection has been in the works for months, with advocates speaking of the move as a bright spot in efforts to curb restraint and seclusion in schools.

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