Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the: (1) extent to which U.S. elementary and secondary schools may discriminate against minority students in assignment practices; and (2) adequacy of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights' (OCR) enforcement activities regarding within-school discrimination.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Education||To provide federal guidance to state and local education agencies, the Secretary of Education should issue title VI regulations that identify practices schools should use for assigning students to classes on the basis of academic ability or achievement level.|
|Department of Education||To help ensure that regional offices reach consistent determinations in their investigations, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights to develop and issue policy guidance that specifies how and when regional offices should use disparate impact analysis in title VI ability-grouping and tracking investigations. This policy guidance should specify the appropriate methods and criteria for determining: (1) if district practices have a segregative effect; (2) if the practices are educationally justified; and (3) when and how to determine the availability of alternative methods of student assignment. In addition, policy guidance of similar specificity should be developed on the appropriate analytic approaches to be used in investigations of each of the other within-school discrimination issues.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights to ensure that regional offices give monitoring high priority, as specified in the OCR enforcement strategy. The Assistant Secretary should enforce agency policy that requires OCR regional offices to monitor school districts until they verify that approved corrective action plans have been fully implemented and that the districts' actions have corrected the violations.|
|Department of Education||The Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights to: (1) identify the kinds of training and technical assistance related to within-school student assignment issues that could be provided by regional desegregation assistance centers; and (2) enter into agreements, if possible, with the centers to obtain needed services for OCR investigations.|