Ethnicity/Ancestry Expansion Project

Ethnicity/Ancestry Expansion in CCCApply [November 2018]

Primary Contacts:

Linda Wah, Trustee Pasadena City College, Chair of the API Trustee Caucus
Craig Hayward, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Bakersfield College
Erik Cooper, Dean of Planning, Research and Resource Development, Sierra College
Stacy Teeters, Grossmont College Research & Planning Analyst, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College 


Proposal to expand the number of ethnicity categories collected on incoming students

Background Information

The Student Equity Planning work of the past several years and the Chancellor’s Vision for Success has resulted in a system-wide focus on closing equity gaps. Historical MIS data sets, however, do not include all ethnic groups that are relevant for the diverse and distinct communities served by the 115 California community colleges. For example, State Center College has a sizable Hmong[1] population in its service area. However, their ability to conduct research, identify equity gaps, and direct resources in ways that will effectively close those gaps has been impeded because “Hmong” is not an ethnicity category that is collected on the standard application, so these students traditionally self-identify simply as “Asian” in absence of other options. The inability to disaggregate this group is problematic, as educational attainment rates in Hmong American communities are extremely low: only 14% have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.[2] This rate contrasts sharply with the 49% bachelor’s degree attainment rate of all Asian Americans, when construed as a broader group.

These types of situations, where a locally important group cannot readily be included in equity planning, led a diverse set of community college stakeholders to convene a workgroup focused on the development of a proposal to expand the ethnicity group data. While the number of ethnicity categories is expanded, the data would still be collected via the standard CCC application (CCCApply) and included in the statewide MIS. The proposal would expand the number of ethnicity or ancestry categories to include those with populations over 10,000 in the state (e.g., Fijian, Hmong, Persian). It would also provide for a greatly expanded collection of data on specific Native American tribes, including all tribes that are officially recognized by the state of California. It is the result of nearly two years of dialogue and research by an array of stakeholders, including equity directors, Chancellor’s Office staff, researchers, counselors, trustees, community members, and faculty members.

Currently, the CCC system collects information on 21 distinct ethnicity or ancestry categories via CCCApply. For comparison purposes, consider that the CSU system collects data on 113 categories while the UC system collects data on 73 categories. CCCApply collects ethnicity information by first asking applicants if they are Hispanic or Latino. Respondents who select “Yes” then see an expanded set of more specific options to choose from. This is the same mechanism that the proposed expansion will use to ensure that the collection of the additional, more specific ethnic groups is minimally disruptive to the application process. The redesigned application question first asks about identification with seven broad ethnic groups (African-American or Black; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian (including Filipino); Hispanic or Latino; Middle Eastern or North African; Pacific Islander; and White). Only applicants who select one of the broad groups would then see the set of more detailed ethnic groups contained under that broad category. Multiethnic applicants are able to select as many groups and subgroups as needed to reflect their ethnic identities. For comparison purposes, the level of detail in the current and proposed ethnicity groupings are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Comparison of level of detail in current and proposed ethnicity collection

Broad Group

Current Number of Groups

Proposed Number of Groups

Broad Group

Current Number of Groups

Proposed Number of Groups

African American or Black



American Indian or Alaska Native



Asian (including Filipino)



Hispanic or Latino



Middle Eastern or North African



Pacific Islander









The majority of the expanded categories are subgroups that fall under the broad “American Indian or Alaska Native” group. Of the 194 proposed subgroups, 76 are non-Native American subgroups while the Native American category comprises 118 subgroups. There are several reasons for this. First, the criteria threshold for included subgroups to have a population of 10,000 in the state of California did not work well for Native Americans. This is in part because information on the populations sizes of most Native American tribes is not generally available. Additionally, Native American populations in California are often highly localized, making some groups particularly relevant in certain service areas, although their overall statewide numbers may be low. Also, Native Americans generally tend to have the largest equity gaps and are therefore any information that would allow for more effective equity planning and services would be very helpful.[3] Finally, the decision to expand collection of Native American subgroup information was essentially a binary one: either include all California-recognized tribal groups or none of them. Therefore, the expansion includes all California tribal groups as well as several of the largest nationally recognized Indian nations (e.g., Cherokee, Sioux). Even though this adds a large number of groups to the proposal, only those applicants who select the broader category of “American Indian” would see that larger list.

This proposal was reviewed by the Chancellor’s Office Data, Evaluation and Research (CODER) group, which includes representatives from the Chancellor’s Office MIS and research units as well as other stakeholders from the Research and Planning Group, Education Results Partnership, and the Workforce and Economic Development Division of the Chancellor’s Office. The proposal was favorably reviewed and recommended to be advanced for adoption. One area of particular focus was the discussion of how students feel a sense of belonging when they see their ethnic background represented as an option. In particular, the discussion focused on whether to include all Native American tribes that are recognized by the state of California and if not, where to draw the line.

Responding to the ethnicity question is still optional, and the expanded number of categories will be unobtrusive as the detailed subgroups will only be seen if a larger category is selected first. This proposal is compliant with federal reporting requirements as all subgroups can be easily rolled up into the required federal ethnicity and race reporting categories. For example, the new high-level group, Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) rolls up into the “White” category for federal reporting purposes. Most importantly, information gathered from the expanded categories will allow colleges and districts to identify equity gaps and work to alleviate them by allowing for enhanced targeting of resources and services—thereby empowering CCC stakeholders to rise the challenge, laid out in the Vision for Success, of reducing and eventually closing all equity gaps by 2027.

Ethnicity Workgroup Members

Katie Cabral, Cuyamaca College Research & Planning Analyst, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

District Erik Cooper, Dean of Planning, Research and Resource Development, Sierra College

Ryan Fuller, Acting Director of Research and Data Analytics, CCCCO

Fabio Gonzalez, Counselor/Director of EOPS, San Jose City College

Craig Hayward, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Bakersfield College

Todd Hoig, Director of MIS, CCCCO

Laura Lara-Brady, Associate Dean of Student Equity, CCSF

Jared Lessard, Senior Research Analyst, Saddleback College

Theresa Lorch, Professor of Kinesiology, Glendale Community College

Darlene Murray, Student Equity Coordinator, Reedley College

Gabe Orona, Research Analyst, Citrus College

Edina Rutland, Supervisor Student Accessibility Services, San Jose City College

Wendy Stewart, Dean of Counseling and Student Development, MiraCosta

Susan Sweeney, Director of Community Education, Gavilan College

Stacy Teeters, Grossmont College Research & Planning Analyst, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College

Theresa Tena, Vice Chancellor of Institutional Effectiveness, CCCCO

Sarah Tyson, Student Services (CalWORKS), CCCCO

Terrence Willett, Dean of Research, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness, Cabrillo College

Community Advocates and Supporters

Dr. J. Luke Wood, Co-Director, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), San Diego State University

Dr. Frank Harris, III, Co-Director, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), San Diego State University

Dr. Cindy L. Miles, Chancellor, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, President, Grossmont College

Dr. Julianna Barnes, President, Cuyamaca College

Document authors

Craig Hayward & Stacy Teeters

[1] The Hmong are a people living traditionally in isolated mountain villages throughout Southeast Asia. Large numbers have immigrated to the US.

[2] Center for American Progress. (2015). Who are Asian Americans? Retrieved from

[3] The Education Trust. (2013, August 13). The state of education for Native students. Retrieved from