Reporting on the racial and ethnic identities of Washington public K-12 students

What is the total student enrollment for Washington public K-12 students using the aggregated federal reporting categories compared to the total unique student responses using the detailed race categories?
January, 2024
January, 2024

How many Asian students are in the state? What about how many Vietnamese students are in the state? These may seem like simple questions, but they lead to a lot of decisions about how a student’s race and ethnicity data is collected and reported. Over the last 15 years, the Washington public education system has collected increasingly more detailed student race and ethnicity data. This report highlights these key changes made across three phases. The changes to data collection have necessitated new strategies for data reporting. However, this is more complex than it may first appear.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Detailed race and ethnicity data can provide new insights about education outcomes for more distinctive groups, but data about the smallest populations may run into student privacy issues.
  • It remains a challenge to accurately represent multiracial student identities in reporting, even with the addition of more detailed race and ethnicity data.
  • Useful alternative approaches for reporting detailed race and ethnicity student data in a disaggregated form exist, but challenges can still arise.