Race and Ethnicity

Maine is required to report to the US Department of Education race and ethnicity codes beginning in 2010 - 2011. There are funding implications based on these identifications. These codes are used by other federal agencies for reporting as well (i.e. Civil rights Compliance, Health collections, Special Services collections)

This data is used for informational purposes and is not be used against any student. In addition, the Maine Department of Education will only report race and ethnicity data to the US Department of Education in summary form. It will never be reported on an individual basis.

Individuals must always be encouraged to identify their own race and ethnicity .

In the case of elementary and secondary students , self-identification includes the selection of race and ethnicity by a student’s parents or guardians . If there is a conflict between the student’s and parent’s identification, use the parent’s choices. Definitions of ethnicity, race, and determination options can be found in the data standards.

Even i f the selected identifications do not seem appropriate, the school unit must accept the individual’s self-identification of his or her race and ethnicity.

If a parent refuses to identify the race or ethnicity of a student, but the student later volunteers to self-identify, the data should be used, unless there is a reason to question the accuracy of the information.

In the absence of self-identification, observer identification should be used. School unit policy and procedure should indicate the steps to be taken before an observer makes a selection. Units might consider including:

  • A review of the enrollment form with the parent at registration
  • Sending a second letter or making a phone call when identifications are not made
  • Verification that the individual has either refused or has overlooked the question.

It is generally good practice to identify one administrator to be the observer when selection on students’ behalf is necessary. While this is not the only option that units may utilize, it is preferred because :

  • It improves the consistency of the data collection process
  • In the event that students , staff, or parents become dissatisfied with the observer process, the policy seats responsibility with one authoritative source

Visual identification is a difficult task, and observers should stay within their own comfort zones. There are other ways to identify, such as:

  • Prior documentation to narrow possibilities
  • Checking a sibling’s re-identification
  • Firsthand knowledge about the student or family
  • The student’s home language or parent’s language preference
  • Knowledge about the community to which the school belongs

Determing race/ethnicity is a two-part question:

  1. Is the individual Hispanic/Latino? (Hispanic or Latino individuals trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish cultures, regardless of race.)
    • Yes
    • No
  2. Is the individual from one or more of these races? (The general racial category which most clearly reflects the individual's recognition of his or her community or with which the individual most identifies. More than one race can be selected.)
    • American Indian or Alaska native - a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including South America), and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliations or community recognition.
    • Asian - a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent. This area includes, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malayasia, Pakistan, 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, North Africa, or the Middle East.