Exploring Classification of Black-White Biracial Students in Oregon Schools

Exploring Classification of Black-White Biracial Students in Oregon Schools

University of Oregon
December 2012
145 pages

Deana M. James

Presented to the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership  and the Graduate School of the University of Oregon in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Multiracial children constitute one of the fastest growing racial groups in the United States. However, biracial children, in particular Black-White biracial children, often are not recognized in the educational system. For instance, the current classification of Black-White biracial students in the state and federal educational systems is not disaggregated and does not allow for analyses of educational outcomes for this population. Not only is this population invisible in state education data, the demographic data at the school level often fail to represent this population. Not acknowledging multiple heritages dismisses the identity and experiences of students who are multiracial and thus symbolically negates a part of who they are. Additionally, multiracial students may be classified in a single category by administrators for the purposes of schools and funding. This study offers the perspective of administrators and current state and federal policies on this issue as applied to Black-White self-identified children and describes the complexities and relevance of addressing multiracial policies in educational systems. An ecological theoretical framework is used to explore four research questions in this area. Data were collected from seven school district administrators across Oregon through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Relationships in the data between responses and procedures from the seven sampled school districts are examined. Results suggest that across the seven school districts in this study, implementation of the policies and procedures of racial and ethnic categorization varied substantially. Furthermore, even though this revised race and ethnicity reporting policy was in part created to more accurately represent the multiracial population, it may actually be obscuring the multiple identities of these students. Detailed policy implications are discussed in further details in the Conclusions chapter.

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