iCount: Equity through Representation Symposium Explores the Power of Data Disaggregation in the Educational Equity Movement

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iCount: Equity through Representation Symposium Explores the Power of Data Disaggregation in the Educational Equity Movement

September 14, 2015

Today marks the start of the iCount: Equity through Representation symposium, a convening of over 100 representatives from educational institutions and philanthropic and community organizations to bring attention to the need for data disaggregation to better represent and support the unique academic needs of a diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student population in education.

“AAPIs face the challenge of the model minority myth—an assumption of uniformly high achievement—when in fact AAPI communities often face barriers to education due to socioeconomic factors, refugee status, limited English proficiency, and poverty,” said Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs. “That is why we must work together to find ways to improve how data on AAPIs are collected and ensure we are highlighting and assisting underserved communities.”

During the symposium, the U.S. Department of Education has announced a series of commitments to encourage data disaggregation.

“We hope that the iCount symposium and the commitments we are making today will help advance the goal of equity for all students – and ensure that the needs of all students are counted,” said John King, senior advisor delegated duties of deputy secretary of education at the U.S. Department of Education.

The commitments include:

  • Including data disaggregation technical assistance in the performance work plan for the upcoming Regional Educational Laboratory – or “REL” – competition. The Department expects RELs to pay careful attention to disaggregation in their research and training, coaching, and technical support activities throughout the country. The RELs – ten in all – are an important vehicle through which the Department supports school districts, state departments of education, and boards of education to use research in education decision-making. The Department also will continue to provide technical assistance to those who are working on or exploring data disaggregation on issues including data collection best practices, privacy issues, and interventions to support high-need students.
  • The National Forum on Education Statistics will produce a report in the fall of 2016 on best practices for the disaggregation of race/ethnicity categories below the required 7 reporting categories. The Forum strives to provide states, districts, and schools with helpful advice on the collection, maintenance, and use of elementary and secondary education data. Forum members—a diverse group of representatives from state and local education agencies (appointed by their state's superintendent), the federal government, and other organizations with an interest in education data—work collaboratively to address problems, develop resources, identify best practices, and consider new approaches to improving data collection and utility, all while remaining sensitive to privacy concerns and administrative burden. The report will include case studies across all of the relevant race/ethnicity categories.
  • Dedicating an AAPI Community Liaison. In order to better understand and respond to community needs, the Department will now have a dedicated staff person within the Department in the Office of Communications and Outreach who will work on AAPI issues in addition to the work of White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

"This symposium is about how our system of education can better understand and be more responsive to 21st century students. This is the dilemma facing our nation as our demography becomes increasingly diverse and the academic experiences more varied," said Robert Teranishi, Principal Investigator of the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE).

This event, hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders in partnership with CARE, builds upon an inaugural 2013 symposium that highlighted the critical need for data disaggregation for AAPI students and provided the opportunity to share best practices for implementing systems at educational institutions. This second iCount convening will explore the progress made since the first symposium as well as opportunities for regional and local collaboration.