NCES Standard: 1-5

PURPOSE: To provide common language to promote uniformity and comparability for the collection and reporting of data on race and ethnicity. This standard is in compliance with the definitions and procedures included in the 1997 revision of the OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15.

KEY TERMS: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, confidentiality, edit, Hispanic or Latino, imputation, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, public-use data file, and White.

STANDARD 1-5-1: Pending further government-wide research on the best practices for collecting information about race and ethnicity on individual-level surveys, NCES will follow OMB guidelines on the use of a two-question format-except under rare circumstances in which a one-question format is justified on the basis of research or other documentation.

With the two-question format, the ethnicity question must come first, followed by the question on race.


Ethnicity is based on the following categorization:

Hispanic or LatinoA person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term "Spanish origin" can be used in addition to "Hispanic or Latino."

Race is based on the following five categorizations:

American Indian or Alaska NativeA person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains 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. Terms such as "Haitian" or "Negro" can be used in addition to "Black or African American."

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.


The race question must allow respondents to choose one or more of the listed categories. Taken together, the Hispanic/Latino category from the ethnicity question and the 5 race categories result in 64 possible combinations of race and Hispanic ethnicity.1

The ethnicity question is:

What is this person's ethnicity? 
     Hispanic or Latino
     Not Hispanic or Latino

The race question is:

What is this person's race? Mark one or more races to indicate what this person considers himself/herself to be. 
White
Black or African American
Asian
American Indian or Alaska Native
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 2

GUIDELINE 1-5-1A: Generally, data collections will only include the categories that are listed above in the sample questions. The two ethnicity and five race categories represent the minimum categories established by OMB. However, in cases where the sample size is sufficient, NCES may elect to expand the ethnicity question to a format similar to the 2000 Decennial Census question to ask about specific Hispanic or Latino ethnicities.

EXAMPLE:
Is this person Hispanic or Latino? 
No, not Hispanic/Latino 
Yes, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano
Yes, Puerto Rican
Yes, Cuban
Yes, other Spanish/Latino (specify __________)

Similarly, if there is a need for more detail and the sample size can support it, an expanded list of races may be used. If more detail is collected, it must be possible to aggregate the data into the minimum categories specified by OMB.


STANDARD 1-5-2: The OMB standards "shall be used for all Federal administrative reporting or record keeping that include data on race and ethnicity." However, "agencies that cannot follow these standards must request a variance from OMB." The Department of Education requested and received an OMB variance to allow time for the development of a single Department reporting standard for administrative record data. Under the existing variance, the Department will publish categories that are to be implemented in Fall 2004. The following text is taken from the OMB's 1999 Draft Provisional Guidance on the Implementation of the 1997 Standards for the Collection of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity section on Standards for Monitoring, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity data formats using a two-question format:

 

"To provide flexibility and ensure data quality, separate questions shall be used whenever feasible for reporting race and ethnicity. When race and ethnicity are collected separately, ethnicity shall be collected first. If race and ethnicity are collected separately, the minimum designations are:

Race:
American Indian or Alaska Native
Asian
Black or African American
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
White

Ethnicity:
Hispanic or Latino
Not Hispanic or Latino

When data on race and ethnicity are collected separately, provision shall be made to report the number of respondents in each racial category who are Hispanic or Latino.

When aggregate data are presented, data producers shall provide the number of respondents who marked (or selected) only one category, separately for each of the five racial categories. In addition to these numbers, data producers are strongly encouraged to provide the detailed distributions, including all possible combinations, of multiple responses to the race question. If data on multiple responses are collapsed, at a minimum the total number of respondents reporting "more than one race" shall be made available."


STANDARD 1-5-3: Full detail on race and ethnicity as reported by individuals or collected from administrative data must be maintained on restricted-access data files and on public-use data files, within the constraints imposed by relevant confidentiality laws and administrative policies (see Standard 4-2).

GUIDELINE 1-5-3A: Survey documentation should describe how race and ethnicity questions were asked, how imputation and edits were accomplished, and what decisions were made to create aggregation categories.


STANDARD 1-5-4:  When reporting data on race and ethnicity in government publications, every effort must be made to use at least the minimal reporting categories, described below, whenever possible. More categories should be used when there are enough cases to support finer detail. However, if there are not enough cases in any individual category of race or Hispanic ethnicity, the data for that category and for the next smallest category must be included in the total but not shown separately, and must be footnoted as such. Alternatively, if several categories cannot be shown, the combined categories must be reported as an "other" category, and footnoted to describe the exact components.

The following are the desired minimal reporting categories for race and ethnicity in government publications. The decision rules for each combination of race and ethnicity are shown in italics:

American Indian or Alaska Native, not Hispanic or Latino 
(This category includes only persons who reported American Indian or Alaska Native as their sole race and did not report Hispanic ethnicity.)

Asian, not Hispanic or Latino
(This category includes only persons who reported Asian as their sole race, but did not report Hispanic ethnicity.)

Black, not Hispanic or Latino
(This category includes only persons who reported Black as their sole race, but did not report Hispanic ethnicity.)

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, not Hispanic or Latino
(This category includes only persons who reported Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander as their sole race, but did not report Hispanic ethnicity.)

White, not Hispanic or Latino
(This category includes only persons who reported White as their sole race, but did not report Hispanic ethnicity.)

More than one race, not Hispanic or Latino
(This category includes any combination of more than one race and not Hispanic or Latino ethnicity or Hispanic or Latino ethnicity not reported.)

Hispanic or Latino, regardless of race
(This category includes Hispanic or Latino ethnicity and any combination of race.)

GUIDELINE 1-5-4A: The names for the groups should be capitalized, per the U.S. Government Printing Office (e.g., White, Black, Asian, etc.).

GUIDELINE 1-5-4B: When the publication contains substantial text, the category names may be abbreviated after the first presentation of the categories. The authors should introduce the shortened version of the category label by saying that the two are used interchangeably in the text.

The following abbreviated names are suggested for use in text or in tables and figures:

American Indian (instead of American Indian or Alaska Native)
Black (instead of Black or African American)
Pacific Islander (instead of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander)
Hispanic (instead of Hispanic or Latino)

A footnote is needed to describe these "abbreviations" as follows:

American Indian includes Alaska Native, Black includes African American, Pacific Islander includes Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic includes Latino. Race categories exclude Hispanic origin unless specified.


Footnotes:
1 See Appendix A for a full list of the 64 categories.
2 The The categories are presented in order of numerical frequency in the population, rather than alphabetically. Previous research studies have found that following alphabetical order in the question categories creates difficulties. That is, having "American Indian or Alaska Native" as the first category results in substantial over reporting of this category.