Giles County Schools System

New Federal Guidelines for Collecting and Reporting Race and Ethnicity

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why must I provide this information?

The federal government is requiring that ethnic and racial information for all students and staff be reported in a new way in order to more accurately reflect the nation’s diversity. In the past, forms for reporting race and ethnicity to the federal government allowed individuals to be identified in only one racial category. The new form enables individuals to be identified in ethnic and racial classifications and in more than one racial category.

2. Why do you need this information?

The demographics of our society have changed significantly in the last few decades. These changes will allow our students and staff to more accurately describe who they are. We (Giles County Schools System) are required by the Federal government to use the new categories. All states and school districts are required to do the same. There are good reasons in addition to meeting federal requirements, though. We routinely report aggregate information to the federal government for funding and evaluation purposes, as well as civil rights compliance. We also use racial and ethnic data to evaluate our placement and program needs, providing the best services for all students. The U.S. Census in 2000 used the new categories. This is a trend that education and human service agencies will follow.

3. What changes have been made and why?

Since 1977, the US Department of Education, along with the other Federal agencies, has been collecting aggregated data on race and ethnicity using five categories. In 1997, the Federal Office of Management and Budget published new revised standards for the collection of data on race and ethnicity. After considering public comments, the US Department of Education aligned its policy for collecting and reporting racial and ethnic data with the revised standards. Educational agencies, including public school systems, are required to report racial and ethnic data to the Department using the new categories starting with the 2010-2011 school year.

The change in collecting and reporting racial and ethnic data allows individuals to self-identify their ethnicity and race, and permits individuals to select more than one race and/or ethnicity. This change allows individuals to more accurately reflect their racial and ethnic background by not limiting them to only one racial or ethnic category. There are four major changes in the way that ethnicity and race data will be collected:

· There is now a two-part question on ethnicity and race. This allows individuals to report their heritage more accurately.

· The term “Hispanic” has been changed to “Hispanic or Latino.”

· The racial category “Asian or Pacific Islander” has been separated into two new categories – “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.”

· Individuals will be able to select one or more races from the five racial groups.

4. What are the ethnicity and race categories?

Ethnicity: The first part of the two-part question asks whether or not the respondent is Hispanic/Latino.

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

Race: The second part asks the respondent to select one or more races from the following five racial groups:

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.

5. When and how will the new information be gathered?

The Giles County School System will begin collecting data in compliance with the new federal guidelines in August 2010. The new form will be distributed to all staff members, families of newly enrolled students AND all current students. The families will be asked to complete the form and return it to the school. Staff members will be asked to return the completed form to their Principal or Department Head. Upon collecting the information student and staff records will be updated.

6. Who provides the information?

Parents will complete a brief form to identify their children’s ethnic and racial identity. Staff members will use the same form for self-identification.

7. What happens if I do not fill out the form?

If a staff member, parent or guardian does not fill out the form and return it, for whatever reason, the school system is still responsible for reporting the information. Therefore, a school system staff member will fill out the form for the respondent. The new guidelines mandate that the school system identify any staff members or students for whom a form has not been completed as non-Hispanic/non-Latino. A designated staff member will fill in the question regarding race using the guidelines provided by the federal government.

8. How will the information be used?

The data with the new ethnicity/race categories will be used in the same manner that racial/ethnic data are currently used. The new categories will replace the existing categories for use in all state and federally sponsored statistical data collections that include data on ethnicity or race, such as student record cards and test results.

9. Is the federal government checking my immigration status?

No. This information will be maintained in your employment or student records. It will not be reported to any federal agency in a way that identifies you or your child. No one will check for immigration status from the information you give here.

10. How do I know I won’t be discriminated against after I’ve told you I belong to a minority group?

This is exactly why we need to maintain better racial and ethnic data about our students and staff. We are required to maintain this information about each individual in his or her record, in case a civil right investigation surfaces.

Again, state and local guidelines are in place to ensure that racial and ethnic data will not be reported elsewhere in a way that you may be identified. The state and districts follow FERPA rules and regulations to safeguard the privacy of student records. For employment records, none of the equal employment opportunity rules have changed. Your race and ethnicity will not be used to determine your employment status or condition.

11. Where can I find more information?

More information is available on the government website: