As a follow up to our discussion about how Williams calculates its racial/ethnic statistics, Director of Institutional Research Chris Winters ’95 passes along this link.

More than 6.8 million people in the 2000 Census of the United States picked more than one racial or ethnic category in which to place themselves. And 40 percent of them were under the age of 18, suggesting that millions will be arriving on campuses where the standard “pick one box” approach to race and ethnicity may no longer work.

On Monday, the U.S. Education Department — following nearly nine years of study and planning — released draft guidance for colleges on how to change the way they collect and report information about students’ race and ethnicity. The system proposed by the department would for the first time allow students to pick multiple boxes, with colleges reporting all of those who checked multiple boxes in a new “two or more races” category. In addition, the new system changes the way data will be gathered about Latino students and divides the “Asian and Pacific Islander” category into two distinct groups.

Experts on education statistics generally praised the changes, saying that they reflect the reality that race and ethnicity in the United States do not fit into neat categories. Many predicted that the guidance — if formally adopted, as is expected — would encourage colleges to adopt a similar approach on admissions forms. And several warned that the changes could have important policy ramifications, as the enrollment levels of some groups may appear to decrease. The big question mark for many remains whether these changes will stop the growth in the number of students who refuse to answer questions on race and ethnicity.

Read the whole thing. Thanks to Chris for the link. I still hope that Williams will release the raw data from the Common Application. The more informed we and the rest of the Williams community are about the details of who goes to Williams, the better.

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