Observer-Identification: A Potential Threat to the Validity of Self-Identified Race and Ethnicity

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9 Scopus citations


The federal government mandates that school personnel select race and ethnicity identifiers for students who do not provide that information. This process is called “observer identification,” and it poses a potential threat to the validity of self-identified race/ethnicity data because (a) evidence from other fields suggests that about 40% of the time, observer identification does not match self-identification of some of the fastest growing racial/ethnic groups in the K–12 population; (b) state and local guidelines for observer identification vary greatly; and (c) the Department of Education does not record how often observer identification is used, but there is good reason to suspect that the practice is widespread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-381
Number of pages4
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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