1964, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education used this information to secure the compliance of local education agencies with school desegregation orders. Over the years, items were added to the E&S survey concerning other possible violations of students’ civil rights under Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color, national origin, and language. Additional questions also have been added to the survey concerning two other laws for which OCR has enforcement responsibility and that were closely modeled after Title VI: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs that receive federal financial assistance, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. Violation of any of these laws can result in the withholding of federal financial assistance, although this penalty rarely has been imposed.
Because the rationale for administering the E&S survey has been to provide information related to the enforcement of these three laws, much more emphasis historically has been placed on the collection of data from schools and districts regarding their compliance with these laws than on routine analyses and dissemination of findings. Information from the E&S survey usually represents a first but important step in the process of determining whether minority students, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency, and females are affected by policies and practices that limit access to learning opportunities or resources. By itself, the E&S survey can only be used to identify statistical relationships and disparities in learning opportunities; it cannot be used to address questions of causality. However, statistical associations among certain variables can suggest that there may be unintended negative consequences of educational policies and practices or possible violations of law.
OCR reports that the survey has long been underutilized. Although some OCR enforcement staff reportedly use the data, most do not. No training is provided to OCR staff regarding technical issues in accessing and analyzing E&S survey data or potential uses of the data in enforcement. The data sometimes are used in conjunction with citizen complaints and other information to decide whether potential problems in specific schools and school districts may require further investigation.
Except for a brief period during the 1970s, data from the survey have never been routinely published or otherwise made widely available to the public. OCR has made the data available to education advocates, researchers, and