On paper, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders appear to be a high-achieving bunch with few of the challenges faced by other racial and ethnic minorities in U.S. schools.
Break these populations down into their many ethnic groups, however, and stark disparities emerge.
For example, between 2006 and 2010, about three-quarters of Taiwanese-Americans and more than half of Korean-Americans aged 25 and older had earned bachelor’s degrees, but only 10 percent of Samoans and 12 percent of Laotian-Americans in that same age range had done so — large gaps that frequently go unseen.
The Asian population expanded more than four times faster than the overall U.S. population between 2000 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders increased more than three times faster than the U.S. population over that period, Census officials reported.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander professionals recently spent two days in Washington last week puzzling over these types of disparities, and how schools and educational institutions can best deal with them. Some groups are so small in number that gathering data on them can inadvertently violate the privacy of specific children and their families, said Don Yu, special adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Last year, the Education Department sent out a request for ideas on how to best tease out and collect data on the many Asian-American and Pacific Islander ethnicities, as well as information on what is already being done in some states, cities and school districts. Those ideas were discussed during the meeting. <Read more.>