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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 new federal requirement for collecting data on race and ethnicity?
Who is requiring this?
When is the deadline to implement the new federal race and ethnicity categories?
Can we make the change before California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) is implemented?
Why are the changes taking place?
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?

Effects on Other Data Collections and Reports

I know this is a federal requirement, but will this new format be adopted in all California Department of Education (CDE)-administered education data systems?
Will the changes affect data reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?
Will the changes affect the information needed for civil rights enforcement?
How will these changes affect Adequate Yearly Progress and the Academic Performance Index?
Will the changes affect the assessment pre-ID process?

Background

What is the new 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.

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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When is the deadline to implement the new federal race and ethnicity categories?

California will implement these new requirements in the fall of 2009 and will include the new categories in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) when it is implemented in the 2009-10 academic year. The federal guideline requires implementation no later than the fall of 2010 for the 2010-11 academic year, but the ED encourages reporting of aggregate race and ethnicity data in accordance with the guidance prior to the deadline.

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Can we make the change before California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) is implemented?

Yes. We recommend that you make the changes before CALPADS is implemented. Your data collection forms must be changed and staff trained, just as if you were making the changes required for CALPADS. In addition, you should consult with your student information system and human resource vendors to make sure they can provide the data consistent with current federal and state reporting requirements for race and ethnicity.

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Why are the changes taking place?

Since 1997, federal agencies have been working to adopt the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards for classifying federal data on race and ethnicity. In October 2007, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released the final guidance on collecting individual level race and ethnicity data and aggregating data into categories for federal reporting This final guidance was published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2007 (72 Fed. Reg. 59267). The new race and ethnicity standards:

In August 2008, the ED published a letter that elaborates on this final guidance. Refer to this August 2008 Letter from Bill Evers External link opens in new window or tab., Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, for more information.

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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?

To obtain the most recent draft version of the CALPADS File Specifications (CFS) and Code Sets, either subscribe to the CALPADS-LEA listserv or visit the CALPADS System Documentation Web page. These documents are intended to provide you with detailed information about the files required for CALPADS, the data elements associated with each file, and when these files should be submitted to CALPADS.

If you have not already, you should sign up for the CALPADS-LEA listserv. Vital information about the development and implementation of CALPADS will be communicated to LEAs via this listserv, including information about the release of the final version of the CFS.

You or someone from your LEA may also be interested in attending a training session designed to provide LEAs with an overview of the proposed CALPADS file formats and steps they can take to begin to prepare for CALPADS. These training sessions are being offered by the California School Information Services (CSIS) and are delivered via Web Conference. Please visit the CSIS Training Class External link opens in new window or tab. Web page site to enroll in the most appropriate session for your LEA.

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 CSIS Help Desk at support@csis.k12.ca.us.

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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?

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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:

Only for individuals who are non-Hispanic/Latino:

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

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?

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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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Effects on Other Data Collections and Reports

I know this is a federal requirement, but will this new format be adopted in all California Department of Education (CDE)-administered education data systems?

Yes. CALPADS will adopt the new scheme when it is implemented in 2009-10. At that time, the student and staff demographic data must be collected consistent with the two-part question. Because schools and LEAs will be maintaining the student and staff data in their local systems consistent with the federal requirement, other student and staff data systems administered by CDE will also adopt the federal standards by 2009-10.

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Will the changes affect data reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?

The aggregated categories are consistent with staff data reported to the EEOC.

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Will the changes affect the information needed for civil rights enforcement?

No. Detailed responses to the two-part question must be maintained locally for a minimum of three years and available to resolve specific issues, for example those presented in a discrimination complaint or compliance review. The records should be maintained even longer if warranted by an ongoing investigation or review.

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How will these changes affect Adequate Yearly Progress and the Academic Performance Index?

It is unknown at this time how the changes might affect Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports and the Academic Performance Index (API). State accountability officials will be closely monitoring student demographic data for significant shifts in sub-groups. There are no plans at this time to change the racial and ethnic categories currently used in California’s AYP and the API reports.

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Will the changes affect the assessment pre-ID process?

Pre-ID student demographic information that is extracted from CALPADS will be consistent with the new federal requirements.

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Questions:   CALPADS/CBEDS/CDS Operations Office | calpads@cde.ca.gov | 916-324-6738
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