State reclassifies students as either ‘American Indian’ or ‘Not American Indian’

The state of Minnesota has reclassified students’ race/ethnicity in enrollment data as either “American Indian” or “Not American Indian.”

Student enrollment data for a school, district, or county is available through the Minnesota Department of Education’s Report Card. Data under the federal definition of students is still available, but as of Feb. 3, the demographics section was updated to reflect “the State definition of American Indian Students.”

The count of American Indian Students as defined by the state of Minnesota is the most inclusive count of learners who are indigenous people of the United States and Canada. All of the students who self-identify as American Indian are counted in this data set.

The Tribal Nations Education Committee and the Minnesota Department of Education view the count of American Indian Students as defined by the state of Minnesota to be the most accurate and inclusive count of learners in grades K-12, because the count includes both students who self-identify as American Indian and students who self-identify as American Indian and a member of another racial group like Hispanic or Caucasian.

It is unclear how this state definition is seen as the “most inclusive” way to count K-12 students. All this does is tell the majority of students in the state that unless they have American Indian in them, their race/ethnicity doesn’t matter, as it gets lumped in with everybody else. How does this help us recognize and celebrate the multitude of ethnic groups who call Minnesota home?

Prior to this change, student demographics on the Report Card platform were exclusively reported under the federal’s seven race/ethnicity codes — American Indian or Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, White, Two or more races. This data is still available on the site, albeit secondary to the state definition’s count. It is unclear if schools will have to report enrollment numbers using the federal definition, state definition, or both.

According to MDE, the state’s count of American Indian students is used instead of the federal count to determine:

  • The learners who should be served in American Indian Education Programs,
  • The calculation of categorical aid through Minnesota’s American Indian Education Aid, and
  • The establishment of district American Indian Parent Advisory Committees.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education Report Card