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

1.3 A Suggested Implementation Sequence

Exhibit 1.2 Sample Timeline for Implementing New Racial and Ethnic Data Collection Standards, displays a suggested sequence for implementing the new race and ethnicity categories in state and district data systems, in preparation for these agencies' reporting to the federal level. This chart is not intended to dictate a time table or schedule. Its main purpose is to illustrate the sequence of the process, showing milestones within each broad area of implementation taking place at state and local levels. The chart also identifies key players (states, school districts, schools, vendors, and ED) in this process, working closely together to implement the tasks. Users of the Final Guidance should judge the length of time required to implement these steps, based on knowledge of their own systems, data environments, and schedules.

Assuming a 3-year process, the implementation sequence consists of the following activities:

  • Year 1: Groundwork is laid in this important phase. Policy and procedure development at both state and district levels should begin now and may last up to a year. During this time, broad guidelines that best reflect the reality of the state or district would be formed. Directions should be provided to other entities (from districts to schools and vendors) as needed. Suggestions about policies and procedures development in chapter 2 of this guide may be used to facilitate this process. Also review chapter 5 of this guide, in which data coding and bridging issues are discussed. Understanding and exploring options at this phase will assist with developing appropriate guidelines for vendors and other stakeholders.
  • Year 2: Setting up the collection system and preparing personnel are key activities of this phase. While each entity will have its own task (e.g., the state to convert its system and define training; districts to develop data collection forms and define their own training; and vendors to implement changes to the systems based on state and district directions), communication is important to fuel and improve the process. Suggestions in scope and contents of training are presented in chapter 3 of this guide.
  • Year 3: All are set to go! Forms are ready, staff are trained, and parents are notified. Year 3 is when individuals (students, parents, or staff) may be asked to re-identify their race and ethnicity. The process continues with follow-up and possible observer-identification. See chapter 3 for suggestions about communicating with the students, parents, and staff and chapter 4 for the re-identification process. Chapter 5 of this guide includes suggestions for coding, reporting, storage, and data bridging.