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Breakouts of Data for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Students Urged

Because of the diversity among students of Asian-American and Pacific Islander decent, a new report urges higher education officials to be more specific in how they collect and report information about their college experience.

The report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education and the Educational Testing Service highlights the need for sharing disaggregated data by country of origin to reflect the possible disparities in educational outcomes.

When it comes to getting a college degree, the report notes that achievement varies widely depending on the ethnicity of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. While 74 percent of Taiwanese, 71 percent of Asian Indian, and 52 percent of Chinese hold bachelor's degrees, just 12 percent of Laotian, 14 percent of Cambodian, and 26 percent of Vietnamese do. This information on educational attainment for adults older than 25 comes from the the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. Some of these adults may have earned degrees in their homeland, while others did so after they came to the United States.

Lumping data about Asian-American and Pacific Islanders together can provide a misleading statistical portrait about the population, the report says. The reality is that the subgroups often have very different experiences based on their socioeconomic backgrounds, educational opportunities in their home countries, immigration patterns, and other factors.

The report recommends that campuses that do not disaggregate data on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders should talk with community and student groups to consider changing their methods and look to the subgroups used by the Census Bureau as a guide.

Once this more specific information is captured, it should be made accessible to institutional researchers, administrators, faculty, and students engaged in the assessment and evaluation of campus programs and services. Higher education could look to both private philanthropy and the federal government to help fund efforts to collect and use disaggregated data, the report suggests.

The report is part of a data-quality campaign supported by ETS and the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is sponsoring a symposium, "iCount: Equity Through Representation," today in conjunction with the report's release at the U.S. Department of Education. It will include leaders from K-12, higher education, and the research community.


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