Updates Required on Race in Education

A change in the way the federal government will report race and ethnicity data for educational institutions is making it necessary for the university to collect new information from students, faculty and staff.

Beginning in 2010, the U.S. Department of Education is moving away from the practice of classifying individuals by one racial category, and it is changing the way institutions report their data.

The most notable change in the Integrated Post-secondary Educational Data System (IPEDS) is a two-part question that first asks individuals to indicate if their ethnicity is Hispanic or Latino, before moving on to a second part that allows them to identify as more than one race.

“The university has mapped previously reported information to the new categories, but it is important that individuals check to make sure the conversion matches with how they would self-identify,” says Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, “which is why the university is asking all faculty, staff and students to login to view and, when appropriate, change their information.

“This also provides an opportunity for those who have been unable to report their identities in more than one racial category to do so.”

While the new survey allows individuals to indicate more than one racial category, students applying for admissions under a revised application no longer will be able to self-identify using multi-ethnic or multi-racial labels of their own choosing, such as Burmese, Comanche or Jewish.

To get ahead of the change in rules, the University of Michigan is beginning to collect new data today, before the required deadline. A new self-service page has been added in Wolverine Access. Faculty and staff should go to the Employee Business section, Personal Information, Racial/Ethnic Survey; students look under Student Business, Personal Information, Racial/Ethnic Survey.

“We hope that students and employees will help us maintain an accurate and current view of our campus community by taking the time to update their information,” Monts says. Verifying the information should take less than a minute, he adds.

University leaders expect the outcome of the data collection will be a shift in the demographic profile of employees and students.

Under the new guidelines, those that identify as Hispanic or Latino and another race, will be categorized in federal reporting as Hispanic or Latino. Those that indicate more than once race but do not say they are Hispanic or Latino will be listed in federal reports as “two or more races.”

“We anticipate the outcome will be an increase in the number of individuals reported as Hispanic or Latino. We also could see reductions in the counts of some underrepresented minorities,” Monts says.

IPEDS tracks aggregate information about enrollment, program completion, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution in the United States and other jurisdictions (such as Puerto Rico) that participate in the federal student financial aid programs.


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