WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 6, 2015) — The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) applauds the All Students Count Act, proposed legislation that calls for our education data system to catch up to the diverse realities of our students.
This week, both Representative Mike Honda (D-CA-17) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced House and Senate versions of the All Students Count Act (H.R. 717 and S. 389), which would require annual state report cards to use the same race categories as the decennial Census and provide additional cross-tabulations of student outcomes by gender, disability, and English language proficiency.
In the 2014-15 school year, students of color became the majority of U.S. students. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 50.3 percent of students are Hispanic, African American, Asian, and other non-white ethnicities.
Quyen Dinh, Executive Director at SEARAC, says, “Our outdated education data system fails to reflect the rich diversity of our students, and it limits our capacity to make smart, targeted interventions for the ‘new majority’ of students of color in this country. The ‘Asian’ category lumps together more than 48 Asian American sub-groups, each with unique patterns of achievement and struggle. We can do better for our current generation of American students.”
The All Students Count Act would make existing disparities in education visible for the first time by requiring the collection and reporting of student outcome data for seven new Asian American categories and four new Pacific Islander categories, in addition to the cross-tabulations for gender, disability, and English proficiency. Disaggregated data using the American Community Survey, for example, reveals that only 65 percent of Hmong, 67 percent of Cambodian, 68 percent of Laotian, and 70 percent of Vietnamese Americans aged 25 and over hold a high school degree or higher, compared to over 86 percent of the overall Asian American population.
Revised from the July 2014 version of H.R. 5343, the re-introduced All Students Count Act requires that states report how English language learner (ELL) students are doing by race, low-income status, gender, and disability. SEARAC applauds this revision, which would show whether current English language development programs are serving the diverse population of ELLs. Across the country, the top five languages spoken by ELL students include two SEAA languages: Vietnamese and Hmong.
While the proposed bill would only impact annual state report cards at the elementary and secondary level, SEARAC encourages schools, districts, and universities to report disaggregated data whenever possible. Congressman Honda and Senator Hirono’s All Students Count Act will shine a light on the true diversity of our students, who have been rendered invisible for far too long.
Join SEARAC and over 180 organizations across multiple communities in endorsing the All Students Count Act – visit our Tumblr campaign atallstudentscount.tumblr.com and take a photo, including your state in the hashtag! The Tumblr campaign currently features more than 1,000 community members in support of the All Students Count Act. The time is now to stand up to make sure that all students count, and all students have the opportunity to succeed in school and beyond.
The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society. Find out more at www.searac.org.