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Contents

Old Race and Ethnicity Standards
New Race and Ethnicity Standards
Reason for Changing the Standards
Guidance for New Race and Ethnicity Standards
Comparison of Old Reporting Standards to New Reporting Standards

Old Race and Ethnicity Standards

In 1977, the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Statistical Policy Directive Number 15, "Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting." In these standards, four racial categories were established: 1) American Indian or Alaskan Native, 2) Asian or Pacific Islander, 3) Black, and 4) White. Additionally, two ethnicity categories were established: 1) Hispanic Origin and 2) Not of Hispanic Origin.

For purposes of educational institutions' federal reporting, ethnicity and race were combined into a single question, so that people chose either to report their Hispanic ethnicity, or to report a race, but could not report both or select multiple races.

New Race and Ethnicity Standards

In 1997, the OMB issued "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity." In these new standards, two modifications included: 1) the Asian or Pacific Islander category was separated into two categories -- "Asian" and " Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander," and 2) the term "Hispanic" was changed to "Hispanic or Latino" (the term "Spanish Origin" may also be used in addition to Hispanic or Latino).

There are now five categories for data on race:

1) American Indian or Alaska Native

2) Asian

3) Black or African American

4) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

5) White

Instead of allowing a multiracial category, the OMB adopted a standard of allowing respondents to select one or more races when they self-identify.

There are now two categories for data on ethnicity:

1) Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin

2) Not Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin

Additionally, the new standards call for separate questions to be used, wherever feasible, for reporting race and ethnicity.

Reason for Changing the Standards

Responding to growing criticism that the 1977 racial and ethnic standards did not reflect the diversity of the nation's current population, the OMB initiated a comprehensive review in 1993. The review included: 1) organizing a workshop to address the issues by the National Academy of Sciences, 2) convening four public hearings, and 3) appointing an Interagency Committee for the Review of Racial and Ethnic Standards, which later developed a research agenda and conducted several research studies. The result of the Committee's efforts was a report describing recommended changes with most of those recommendations being accepted by the OMB in its 1997 Standards. These recommendations led to the guidance and new standards.

Guidance for New Race and Ethnicity Standards

On October 19, 2007, the U.S. Department of Education posted to the Federal Register the "Final Guidance on Maintaining, Collecting, and Reporting Racial and Ethnic Data to the U.S. Department of Education" to implement OMB's 1997 Standards. The guidance issued by the Department covers two issues: 1) the collection of race and ethnicity data by institutions, and 2) the reporting of aggregate data to the Department.

For collecting race and ethnicity data, postsecondary institutions must use a two-question format as follows:

1) The first question is whether the respondent is "Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin" or "Not Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin." (The term "Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin " is defined as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.)

2) The second question is whether the respondent is from one or more races from the following list: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White. Postsecondary institutions cannot use a multi-race category in collecting data from respondents.

As a result, there are 64 possible combinations of responses (including non-response to either question), up to and including the selection of all five race items.

Comparison of Old Reporting Standards to New Reporting Standards

For reporting aggregate data to the U.S. Department of Education, the guidance requires that individual selections be consolidated into nine categories. The current and new race/ethnicity categories for reporting data are outlined below.

Current Reporting Categories
(5+2 format)

New Reporting Categories
(7+2 format)

Five race/ethnicity categories

Seven race/ethnicity categories

Hispanic

Hispanic or Latino or Spanish Origin of any race

American Indian or Alaskan Native

American Indian or Alaskan Native

Asian or Pacific Islander

Asian

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

Black, non-Hispanic

Black or African American

White, non-Hispanic

White

Two or more races

Two additional categories

Two additional categories

Non-Resident Alien

Non-Resident Alien (of any race or ethnicity)

Race and Ethnicity unknown

Race and Ethnicity unknown

Everyone who selects "Hispanic" will be reported in that grouping, regardless of the race selections made. A "two or more races" category replaces the reporting of dozens of possible multiple selections. While this is much simpler than the 64 combinations possible, institutions are encouraged to keep all the detail of individual responses and to design internal reports as appropriate. The University of Texas at Arlington does plan to provide more detailed reports than the federal government requires, once the process of resurveying employees and students is complete.

More details and resources are also available on the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) website.