Counting by Race Can Throw Off Some Numbers

Susan Saulny, New York Times, February 9, 2011

{snip}

{snip} Despite the federal government’s setting standards more than a decade ago, data on race and ethnicity are being collected and aggregated in an assortment of ways. The lack of uniformity is making comparison and analysis extremely difficult across fields and across time.

{snip}

The new standards for kindergarten through 12th grades and higher education will probably increase the nationwide student population of Hispanics, and could erase some “black” students who will now be counted as Hispanic or as multiracial (in the “two or more races category”). And reclassifying large numbers of white Hispanic students as simply Hispanic has the potential to mask the difference between minority and white students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates–the so-called achievement gap, a target of federal reform efforts that has plagued schools for decades.

{snip}

{snip} And research by the Harvard Civil Rights Project in 2006 showed that the new method of race reporting would result in a significant reduction in the black student population nationally, producing data that it called “questionable and often meaningless.”

{snip}

The N.A.A.C.P. had vowed “vigorous resistance” to the notion of a multiracial catchall, concerned that such an option would diminish minority numbers, particularly blacks, in government counts.

{snip}

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.

Comments are closed.