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The invisibility of multiracial students : an emerging majority by 2050

  • Author(s): Potter, Gina Acosta
  • et al.

By the nature of their existence, multiracial people call to question deeply held notions of race and racial classification held tightly by Americans. To acknowledge a person as multiracial, or a blending of more than one race, defies the conventional social construct that delineates clear, discernible, and discrete races. Even as multiracial students become increasingly visible in our nation's schools, multiracial identity is seldom recognized as a critical topic of diversity within the educational arena. By 2050, the multiracial population will surface as a majority group of people whose presence will require our nation to redefine our current constructs of race, racial identification, and racial classification (Anderson, 2002; Winters & DeBose, 2003). This qualitative research study seeks to address the primary research question: How and to what extent do public policy decisions regarding academic accountability affect educational outcomes for multiracial students in two states that differ in their multiracial categorization policies? The purpose of this study is to illuminate racial subgroups identified within accountability systems, determine the degree to which multiracial students are rendered visible in the academic accountability movement, and examine the needs of multiracial students. The research design is a comparative case study of two state education agencies and the public policies they employ when monitoring the academic achievement of multiracial students. The major findings of this study reveal: 1) a misalignment between federal and state accountability systems for racial classification ; 2) a variance in how two state education agencies racially classify mixed race students ; 3) a non-standardized approach to school enrollment categorization of multiracial students ; 4) controversy regarding the meaning of race and ethnicity ; 5) various approaches taken by multiracial students when self-identifying 6) data methodology challenges ; and 7) a more than ten year lapse in time before the federal Department of Education moved towards complying with the White House Office of Management and Budget regulations allowing multiracial individuals to identify as more than one race. The implications of this research indicate a significant need for the United States' educational system to face the challenge of recognizing and responding to the histories, experiences, and identities of multiracial students within our schools.

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