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Frequently Asked Questions

Lists frequently asked questions for New Federal Standards for Collecting and Reporting Race and Ethnicity Categories.
Background

What is the federal requirement for collecting data on race and ethnicity?
Who is requiring this?
Is it really legal to collect race and ethnicity data on students and staff?
Where can I get more information on the federal guidance?
Where can I go to get more help on translating race and ethnicity for CALPADS data elements, CALPADS best practices, CALPADS File Specifications and Code Sets, and other information about CALPADS?

Data Collection

Does the two-part question have to be asked in exactly that order?
Have the race definitions changed?
What is the federal definition of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity?
What are the definitions of the federal race categories?
There doesn't seem to be a race category to select when respondents select their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino. What's the correct race selection for someone who is Hispanic or Latino?
Can we put space on our form for parents/guardians to indicate “Declined to answer” under the Race question, or can we put “You may leave this question blank if you answered Yes to the Hispanic question” in our instructions for the race question?
Do we still collect the Asian sub-group information?
Can I collect even more detailed race data?
Do we need to re-survey students whom we’ve already identified?
What do we do when respondents refuse to identify their race or ethnicity?
Can it be a condition of employment that the staff member identifies a race and ethnicity?
How long must data collection records be maintained at the local level?

Are there any samples from school district enrollment forms that I can see?
Is it acceptable for us to use multiracial on our collection form?

Data Reporting

What do we do about students or staff members who are already in our student information system whose race or ethnicity is stored as “Declined to State” or “Unknown”?
I have aggregate reports that I need to send off for other state and federal programs. How do I aggregate the data according to the new categories?
Can you show some scenarios, just to clarify the federal aggregation rules?
Why doesn’t the federal government ask for the race of Hispanic/Latino students and staff in its aggregated reports?
Is “Filipino” still a separate aggregated sub-group for state reports?

Background

What is the federal requirement for collecting data on race and ethnicity?

A two-part question must be used to collect data about students’ or staff members’ race and ethnicity.

  • The first part should consist of a question about the respondent’s ethnicity:
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Not Hispanic or Latino
  • The second part asks respondents to select one or more races from the following categories:
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • White

In addition, California Government Code (GC) Section 8310.5 External link opens in new window or tab. requires the detailed collection of Asian and Pacific Islander sub-populations.

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Who is requiring this?

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) requires these standards for federal education eligibility and accountability reports. The California Department of Education (CDE) is also requiring local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools to collect and report data consistent with these federal requirements.

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Is it really legal to collect race and ethnicity data on students and staff?

Yes. There are state and federal laws that require race and ethnicity data to be collected, such as laws enabling state assessments (e.g. Education Code Section 60640), Special Education data collection (Education Code sections 56601 and 56602), and federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) work force reports (Section 709(c), Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1967, as Amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972).

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Where can I get more information on the federal guidance?

Here are some additional sources of information on the federal guidance:

The full final guidance document was published in the Federal Register in October 2007, documenting the changes.

Federal Policy Questions External link opens in new window or tab. regarding the guidance on the new categories.

A best practices guideline published by the National Forum on Education Statistics, entitled Managing an Identity Crisis: Forum Guide to Implementing New Federal Race and Ethnicity Categories External link opens in new window or tab..

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Where can I go to get more help on translating race and ethnicity for CALPADS data elements, CALPADS best practices, CALPADS File Specifications and Code Sets, and other information about CALPADS?

The CALPADS File Specifications (CFS) and Code Sets can be found within the CALPADS System Documentation, which is intended to provide you with detailed information about the files required for CALPADS, the data elements associated with each file, and timelines for file submission to CALPADS.

Additionally, you may subscribe to the CALPADS-LEA listserv. Vital information about CALPADS is communicated to LEAs via this listserv.

For general questions about CALPADS, please send an e-mail to calpads@cde.ca.gov.

For more technical questions or questions about your current data submissions, please contact the CALPADS Service Desk at calpads-support@cde.ca.gov.

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Data Collection

Does the two-part question have to be asked in exactly that order?

Yes. The first part of the question must ask the respondent about his or her ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino) and must come first. The second part of the question must ask the respondent to identify one or more races, and it must follow the ethnicity part of the question. All respondents must answer both parts of the question. One of the main reasons for these changes is consistency in data collection, and uniformity in how the question is asked helps to achieve this.

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Have the race definitions changed?

No. The way in which the ethnicity and race data are collected is changing, but not the definitions themselves.

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What is the federal definition of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity?

A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

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What are the definitions of the federal race categories?
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains a tribal affiliation or community attachment.
  • Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
  • White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

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There doesn't seem to be a race category to select when respondents select their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino. What's the correct race selection for someone who is Hispanic or Latino?

The federal government considers "Hispanic/Latino" to be an ethnicity, not a race. Consequently, "Hispanic/Latino" is not a selection in the race part of the question. The CDE supports self-identification, so the correct answer is whatever the person indicates in both parts of the question. Someone who is Hispanic or Latino could see themselves as belonging to any one or more than one race. We understand that some respondents might not identify themselves as belonging to any of the race groups if they identify their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino. If a respondent does not see a race group that applies after selecting Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, and after the definitions or other help has been provided, the respondent might leave the race part blank. CALPADS will accommodate such information after the LEAs confirm that the race information was missing intentionally, that is, the respondent was unable to select a race from the required list.

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Can we put space on our form for parents/guardians to indicate “Declined to answer” under the Race question, or can we put “You may leave this question blank if you answered Yes to the Hispanic question” in our instructions for the race question?

No. You may not put a “Declined to answer” field on your form for the respondent or parent/guardians to use, nor may your instructions tell the respondent or parent/guardians that they may leave the answer blank if they answered yes to the Hispanic question.

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Do we still collect the Asian sub-group information?

Yes. California Government Code (GC) Section 8310.5 requires state agencies to collect data for each major Asian and Pacific Islander group, including, but not limited to, Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Samoan, Tahitian, and Vietnamese.

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Can I collect even more detailed race data?

Yes. LEAs have the option to collect even more detailed race data, but the data must be mapped to the new race and ethnic categories—along with the additional Asian and Pacific Islander sub-group information required by California law (GC Section 8310.5) —when reporting to CALPADS. Also, the data collection process must include the two-part question.

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Do we need to re-survey students whom we’ve already identified?

No. Schools and districts are not required to re-survey students if that is not the practice in the school or district, but re-identification is encouraged. However, beginning in the 2009-10 academic year, information collected during enrollment of new students or routine updates of existing student records must be collected and maintained according to the new federal guideline. Similarly, existing staff members must be re-surveyed when employment data either are updated or collected for the first time on new hires.

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What do we do when respondents refuse to identify their race or ethnicity?

The strong preference is for the respondent to self-identify. Schools and districts should do everything possible to encourage respondents to identify themselves according to the new format, and to follow up with those who are reluctant to respond for themselves. While federal guidelines state that a third-party is to identify non-respondents by observation, the CDE does not advocate third party identification of race/ethnicity by observation. The federal guidelines require that the race and ethnicity for all respondents must be collected, and that states are not allowed to include “Unknown” or “Decline to State” in federal reports. For reporting student level information to CALPADS, there will not be a category for “Decline to State” or “Unknown”. When reporting to CALPADS, if all race and ethnicity information is missing from a student record (or if the respondent indicates only that he or she is not Hispanic or Latino and does not complete the race information), LEAs will be required to confirm that self-identification was not possible. If LEAs confirm that self-identification was not possible, the CDE will make a third-party identification using a consistent methodology that will report such respondents in the “Two or more races” category in federal reports.

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Can it be a condition of employment that the staff member identifies a race and ethnicity?

No.

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How long must data collection records be maintained at the local level?

Because the collection of the data is associated with the disbursement of federal funds, the regulatory requirement for maintaining original individual responses to the two-part question is a minimum of three years, unless a given collection specifies otherwise. If there is an audit, inspection, review or investigation, the responses must be retained at least until the case involving those records is resolved.

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Is it acceptable for us to use multiracial on our collection form?

Yes, multiracial refers to people who claim two or more racial heritages. In consultation with the US Department of Education, the California Department of Education would not view this practice as being out of compliance with the federal regulations. It may also be more appropriate and enhance demographic data collection.

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Data Reporting

What do we do about students or staff members who are already in our student information system whose race or ethnicity is stored as “Declined to State” or “Unknown”?

The federal guidelines assume that the process for identifying students and staff remains unchanged; that is, the race and ethnicity for all students and staff are identified, preferably by self-identification. The CDE will implement a default designation in federal reports that will be applied to records without valid race designations. To prevent such default designations for missing information in student and staff records, LEAs may want to re-survey students or staff for whom the data are missing.

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I have aggregate reports that I need to send off for other state and federal programs. How do I aggregate the data according to the new categories?

Aggregation will not be an issue with CALPADS reporting, because LEAs will report student level data to CALPADS. LEAs may have specialized programs, however, where they may be required to submit aggregate reports that include student or staff demographic data. Race and ethnicity data should be aggregated into the following seven categories for federal education program reporting:

  • Hispanic/Latino of any race;

Only for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native,
  • Asian,
  • Black or African American,
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,
  • White

For any individuals who identify themselves as not Hispanic and identify themselves by more than one race, they should be reported as:

  • Two or more races

Please contact your CDE program representative to confirm specific state program reporting instructions.

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Can you show some scenarios, just to clarify the federal aggregation rules?
  • A student identifies himself as “Hispanic/Latino” and as “Asian.”
  • The student is counted as “Hispanic/Latino of any race” in the aggregate.
  • A staff member identifies herself as “Not Hispanic/Latino” and as “White” and “American Indian or Alaska Native.”
  • The staff member is counted as “Two or more races” in the aggregate.
  • A student identifies herself as “Not Hispanic/Latino” and as “Black or African American.”
  • The student is counted as “Black or African American” in the aggregate.
  • A staff member identifies himself as “Not Hispanic/Latino” and as “Asian Indian.”
  • The staff member is counted as “Asian” in the aggregate.
  • A student identifies herself as “Not Hispanic/Latino” and as “Filipino.”
  • The student is counted as “Asian” in the aggregate.
  • A student identifies herself as “Hispanic/Latino,” as “American Indian or Alaska Native,” and as “White.”
  • The student is counted as “Hispanic/Latino of any race” in the aggregate.

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Why doesn’t the federal government ask for the race of Hispanic/Latino students and staff in its aggregated reports?

The ED did not require aggregate reporting of race information for the Hispanic population due to the burden and cost of adding more data elements to information systems. The ED will require agencies to keep the original individual responses using the two-part question for a minimum of three years, and information regarding the race of Hispanic respondents can be accessed locally, if necessary. Race information on all respondents is also required for civil rights monitoring and enforcement.

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Is “Filipino” still a separate aggregated sub-group for state reports?

Yes. Aggregate reports produced by DataQuest will continue to show Filipino students as a separate sub-group, and Filipino will remain a sub-group for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reporting. Some federal reports will have Filipino included as part of the Asian race category.

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Questions:   CALPADS/CBEDS/CDS Operations Office | calpads@cde.ca.gov | 916-324-6738
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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