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Issues in Race/Ethnicity Identification Procedures in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Part I: A Comparison of Observer Reports and Self-Identification NAEP

Rivera, Charlene; Pennock-Roman, Maria
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Identification, Minority Groups, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Racial Identification, Student Characteristics


In this investigation, the validity of observer reports versus student self-reports of race and ethnicity in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for ages 9, 13, and 17 were evaluated. Data from seven surveys (1975-1984) were analyzed, with sample sizes ranging from 15,859 to 38,899. While the concordance between the two methods for both White and Black students was very high (95% or better), the two classifications gave very disparate results for the other four racial/ethnic groups. For example, observers undercounted self-identified Hispanic 17-year-olds by 25% to 48%. Language background was significantly (p < .0001) more consistent with self-identification than with observer reports for 17-year-old Hispanic students which showed that self reports were more valid than observed ethnicity in this age group. However, the results for ages 9 and 13 were less clear-cut. The implications of the findings for continuity in NAEP data sets and the validity of reported group achievement data for Hispanic students are discussed. (63pp.)

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