The federal government is abandoning its traditional check-one-box approach to gathering racial and ethnic information on American students.
Next year, the Education Department will allow parents to check every box that applies to their children in two separate questionnaires, The Washington Post reports.
In the first survey, students will be asked whether or not they are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Next, students will check whether they are American Indian or Alaska native; Asian; Black or African American; native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; or White. New students are required to fill out the questionnaires to help the government determine the multiracial population in U.S. schools.
Last time the Census was taken, some 6.8 million people, or 2 percent of the population, were counted for the first time as multiracial. The information is essential in steering school boards’ decisions about such things as curricula, disciplinary and admissions policies and programs for troubled or gifted youngsters, according to the Post.
“The government looks at test scores of minority groups to help determine whether schools make the grade under the No Child Left Behind law. In an increasingly data-driven culture, educators also scrutinize such test scores and enrollment figures to pick programs meant to narrow achievement gaps and equalize academic opportunity.”