REPORT: First of its Kind Analysis From All 50 States Details Standards for Race and Ethnicity Data Collection to Identify Inequities

Census News 12.12.23

Rachel Hooper, [email protected]

The Leadership Conference Education Fund Review of State Race and Ethnicity Data Collection Standards Finds Progress, Continued Setbacks

WASHINGTON — Today, The Leadership Conference Education Fund released a report detailing current standards for collecting race and ethnicity data in all 50 states. The report — “Disaggregation Nation: A Landscape Review of State Race & Ethnicity Data Collection” — provides an unprecedented national overview of race and ethnicity data collection standards. It finds that while some states have made significant progress in collecting accurate, disaggregated race and ethnicity data, others are lagging behind and failing to collect data that meaningfully shed light on disparities that we know exist but cannot quantify. This research builds on The Education Fund’s work, in concert with state and national partners, to shed light on the power of equitable race and ethnicity data to help identify and address systemic inequalities and design targeted policies that uplift underrepresented communities.

 Click here to read the report.

 Click here to read our blog.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund hosted a media briefing about the report — featuring experts in health care, voting rights, and education — to discuss the report’s findings.

Click here  to view a recording of the media briefing.

“People of all races and ethnicities deserve to be counted, represented, and rendered visible. States must ensure that data collection standards identify the diversity of the communities they represent and policy making is informed by accurate disaggregated data,” said Meeta Anand, senior director of the census and data equity program at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

“The need for disaggregated race and ethnicity data in health care remains critical. For example, aggregate data suggest that cervical cancer rates are lower for Asian Americans than non-Hispanic white Americans,” said Mara Youdelman, managing director for federal advocacy of the National Health Law Program and co-chair of The Leadership Conference Health Care Task Force. “But when disaggregated by race, the rates are much higher in Vietnamese and Cambodian women (while lower in Chinese and Asian Indian women). Without disaggregated data, we will be stymied in efforts to identify appropriate interventions, reduce disparities, and promote health equity.”

“Disaggregated data are not just crucial but indispensable when it comes to protecting voting rights. It helps us expose disparities that affect underserved, vulnerable communities, including in language access, ballot accessibility, and ensuring voters with disabilities can fully participate in the process,” said Yterenickia Bell, senior director of the “And Still I Vote” program at The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “The absence of disaggregated data makes it challenging to engage and mobilize vulnerable populations who are harder to reach and require more engagement to be civically active. This not only jeopardizes the inclusivity of our democratic process, but it also affects election integrity. The fight for our freedom to vote demands attention to the details that only disaggregated data can provide to ensure we have a democracy that works for all of us.”

“Disaggregated data give context to socio-economic disparities among Americans and allows advocates and policymakers to address these concerns. Without it, populations in need are overlooked — creating troubling consequences in areas such as health, housing, and hate crime prevention,” said Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute and co-chair of The Leadership Conference Hate Crimes Task Force. “For Arab Americans, a subgroup within the MENA category, not having data about our community means we suffer from a lack of health research and targeted health care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Arab American communities lacked reliable information that considered their particular risk factors. We believe Arab Americans have high rates of high blood pressure, higher BMIs, and higher rates of diabetes, making them high risk for the virus. Disaggregated data on the community would have helped highlight these disparities and guided federal programs to target the specific health concerns of the community more effectively.”

“In order to ensure equal opportunity and fair treatment for all, we need data that are disaggregated across lines of race, ethnicity, sex, disability, home language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. For generations and generations, educational opportunity has been provided or denied based on these student characteristics. We can only measure and accelerate our progress toward fairness in education if we have data that tell us who is being given a chance and who isn’t,” said Liz King, senior director of the education equity program at The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “In these disaggregated data we are able to see the patterns of opportunity, to find the bright spots that indicate promising practices, and to find the injustices that demand immediate intervention.”

Current data collection policies and methods too often obscure our nation’s full diversity and conceal disparities, leaving life-altering problems unaddressed. Without a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges faced by various communities, we risk perpetuating systemic inequalities and hindering progress towards a fair and just society.

For more information or to reach one of The Education Fund’s civil rights experts, please contact Rachel Hooper ([email protected]).


The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit