More Students Refuse to List Race on Forms, Tests
But students and parents are increasingly reluctant to identify race on tests and forms. In Jeanne Kirchofer’s classroom at Laguna Creek High School in California, for example, approximately “half said they would rather be identified as Americans, erasing race from the boxes,” Magagnini writes.
According to the California Department of Education, from 2006 to 2009, the number of K-12 students that stated their race as “multiple/no response” increased by 70 percent, from 124,000 to 210,000, Magagnini reports.
It’s a growing trend at the college level, too. According to figures from the American Council on Education, from 1994 to 2004, the number of students nationwide that refused to list their races on college applications rose by 144 percent, Jean Cowden Moore reported for the Ventura County Star.
For others that are of mixed race, it can be difficult to decide which race to indicate. As Kirchofer explained to Magagnini, many students are multiracial and “are grappling with this … there are always questions like, ‘What do I fill in? What if I’m two?’”
Amanda Totten, who is white, had different reasons for skipping the race question on her application to California Lutheran University. “It should be based on your grades, extra-curricular activities and SAT scores,” Totten told the Ventura County Star. “It shouldn’t have anything to do with how I look.”
“I’d love to look at individual kids and leave it at that, but we wouldn’t even know there was an achievement gap if we didn’t measure our kids,” Doug Craig, Laguna Creek High School principal, told The Sacramento Bee. “There must be a systemic reason and we need to figure out what causes it and how to fix it.”
At the college level, not having students’ racial information makes it difficult to determine whether they’re admitting a diverse student body, and “it could make it harder for them to qualify for government grants and other programs that consider diversity,” the Ventura County Star reports.