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Educational Testing Service


Asking differently about race and ethnnicity: New needs for a changing population.

Klieger, D.M., Alders, R., Ezzo, C.



Now is an opportune time to consider new ways to ask registrants for the GREĀ® General Test about their race and ethnicity. Growth in the percentage of Americans who identify as multiracial suggests the possibility that a sizeable percentage of registrants would self-report more than one race or ethnicity if given the opportunity to do so; furthermore, racial and ethnic questions currently asked might be inappropriate or insufficient for the increasing number of registrants who are not U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents and continuing to consider Hispanic origin a racial classification might be too restrictive. Because fairness at the group level can reflect only the groups that can be identified, how we ask people to identify their race and ethnicity is fundamental. Using stratified sampling and online questionnaires, we explored U.S.-style and international-style questions about race and ethnicity as potential replacements of or supplements to the questions on ETS's current GRE Background Information Questionnaire (BIQ). We investigated the effects of U.S. citizenship, birth country, U.S. permanent residency status, mono- and multiraciality, and Hispanic origin on the preferences that survey respondents had for certain question formats and content. Furthermore, we analyzed the qualitative survey responses to determine respondents' major concerns about various question formats. In response to the survey results, we recommend that ETS's current BIQ be amended to include (a) more pluralistic U.S.-style questions about race and ethnicity that conform to U.S. federal standards and (b) certain international-style questions.

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