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Unequal Access to Educational Opportunity in High School: A National Analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection

The United States is plagued by large disparities in life outcomes between racial and ethnic groups. Researchers have documented how gaps in outcomes are related to gaps in access to opportunity, both in education and otherwise. Yet, as documented in this report, too often state policymakers still fail to provide equitable learning opportunities to their students.

The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is administered biennially by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. This data set provides dozens of indicators related to access to educational opportunity from virtually every public school in the nation. To determine the extent to which high school students have access to schools that provide quality educational opportunities, we analyzed 14 CRDC indicators. From these 14 indicators, we generated composite indices of three broad domains of access to educational opportunity for high school students:

  1. Access to Quality Educators Index
  2. Access to College and Career Readiness Curriculum Index
  3. Access to Positive School Climate Index

Data from this report can also be accessed via Research for Action’s interactive Educational Opportunity Dashboard.