and that a reliance on this approach will have limited value unless it is supplemented by a focus on the quality of the educational opportunities that students experience.
This chapter highlights ways in which the E&S survey could be strengthened and therefore be made more useful to OCR and others concerned with ensuring access to learning opportunities. The committee offers several ways to strengthen the survey in three broad categories: methodology and technical issues, content, and use.
The E&S survey instruments are somewhat complex and require respondents to collect a substantial amount of detailed information—such as on enrollments and dropout rates, children with disabilities, racial and ethnic categories, disciplinary events, testing, student assignment, athletics, and teacher certification. The capability of districts and schools to collect the required information efficiently and accurately varies greatly. Some districts have computerized student identification and data management systems in which most of the needed information is routinely collected and analyzed, while other districts and schools may use a paper system to collect some or all of the data. Still others collect the data that the state requires once a year for fall enrollment procedures and do not collect any additional information. In addition, as noted above, several of the questions may not be easily understood by respondents or ask for information that could be understood or interpreted differently by different jurisdictions.
In addition to issues related to the various data collection systems is the question of which employees at the school or district level actually complete the survey. The committee heard from members who have responsibility for data collection in their jurisdictions that there are substantial differences in roles and responsibilities among respondents. In some cases, a data manager may complete the forms; in other cases, an administrator (e.g., school principal or assistant principal) is charged with the responsibility. In still other instances, a clerk from the central office of the district or school may be given the task. A strength of the survey is that it requires a signed certification that the data are accurate. While this requirement enhances the probability of accurate data, it does not necessarily ensure that the data were collected and reported in a consistent and reliable manner.