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Managing an Identity Crisis: Forum Guide to Implementing New Federal Race and Ethnicity Categories
NFES 2008-802
October 2008

1.2 Let's Get Started

Some states have proactively implemented the new standards in their data systems, while others waited for ED's October 2007 release of the Final Guidance. To help readers quickly understand the key changes, view this comparison chart. U.S. Department of Education's Final Guidance At-A-Glance contains a quick review of the key elements of the Final Guidance, which states and districts may use for a variety of training and communication purposes. This best-practice guide recommends ways and provides tools for state and local data systems to implement the changes specified in the Final Guidance released in October 2007, thus meeting the goal of submitting data for the 2010–11 school year as required by ED. This guide addresses four broad areas of implementation:

  • Developing needed policies and procedures
  • Training with staff and communication with parents
  • Re-identifying students' and staff members' race and ethnicity
  • Coding, storing, and reporting data, and bridging the new standards to earlier years' reports.

Throughout the Final Guidance, many data quality concerns such as the following are addressed:

  • Re-identifying individuals, including tips on observing the race and ethnicity of an individual;
  • Converting from old to new data sets;
  • Conducting school district-to-state-to-federal data aggregation and reporting;
  • Selecting and adopting bridging methodologies;
  • Navigating a tight implementation timeline;
  • Identifying the impact on state assessment systems and on such issues as adequate yearly progress (AYP) calculations; and
  • Promoting comparability between new and longitudinal/historical data.

Appendix A is the text of the Final Guidance from ED on maintaining, collecting, and reporting racial and ethnic data.

Appendix B is the text of the letter issued by Bill Evers, ED's Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, to address some of the important policy questions related to the Final Guidance.

Appendix C is a study on bridging methodology for states or school districts considering this effort; the appendix suggests options and describes how users may select a bridging method that is most appropriate for their needs.

In this guide, you will also find:

  • Case studies of states and school districts that have changed their data systems;
  • Vignettes showing the pros and cons of implementing various strategies;
  • Checklists of steps in the process of adopting the new race and ethnicity standards;
  • A suggested timeline for implementation;
  • Sample documents, such as letters to parents and enrollment forms; and
  • Links to other resources.

A PowerPoint™ presentation will also be available on the website of the National Forum on Education Statistics (NFES). This will help state and school district personnel in their training on making the change to the new standards.