ERIC Number: ED422447
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Jul
Reference Count: N/A
Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in U.S. Public Schools. Issue Brief.
Bare, John; Meek, Anne; Frase, Mary
Since 1977, federal agencies have followed standards set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for collecting and presenting data on racial and ethnic populations. A policy directive at that time established four discrete racial categories: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Black; and White. As an alternative, OMB allowed five categories: American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Black, not of Hispanic origin; Hispanic, and White, not of Hispanic origin. Since 1977, however, the racial and ethnic makeup of the country has changed, giving rise to the question of whether these five standard categories reflect the present population adequately. OMB and Congress have begun efforts to change the standards before the dress rehearsal for the 2000 Census. Changes in racial and ethnic makeup present special problems for the public schools, which collect data for various reporting purposes. The National Center for Education Statistics and the Office for Civil Rights sponsored two surveys, one at the school level, and the other at the state level about the racial and ethnic classification used to collect and report student data. The majority of the public schools, 55%, reported that they collect data only when a student initially registers at a school in the district. Another 17% reported that they also collect data when a student changes schools. Twenty-five percent of the schools collect racial and ethnic data annually. Seven percent of the schools reported using racial or ethnic designations in addition to the five standard categories, and these schools were more likely to be in the West. The category most frequently added was "Filipino." Other categories mentioned were "Middle Eastern" and various specific Asian nationalities, but none of these was mentioned by more than 4% of the schools. In the state survey, eight states reported using additional categories, with five using a "multiracial," category, and one an "other" category. Taking these responses into account, OMB is proposing new standards that classify racial populations as: (1) White; (2) Black or African American; (3) Asian; (4) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and (5) American Indian or Alaskan Native. For data on ethnicity, the categories are Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. OMB did not add a multiracial category, but is allowing individuals to report more than one race when they self-identify. (Contains two tables, one figure, and five references.) (SLD)
Descriptors: American Indians, Asian Americans, Blacks, Classification, Elementary Secondary Education, Ethnic Groups, Federal Government, Hispanic Americans, Labeling (of Persons), Public Schools, Racial Differences, Standards, Whites
World Wide Web: http://nces.ed.gov/
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Center for Education Statistics (ED), Washington, DC.