Education

Overview

Data about student achievement has the power to reveal—and to conceal. Schools and policymakers often lump Southeast Asian American students together with all other Asian American students, whose overall educational outcomes are much higher than average. But aggregating the data renders Southeast Asian American students’ experience invisible.

In fact, our students face multiple barriers and challenges in school: language barriers, insufficient support for parent engagement, gaps in mental health treatment, race-based bullying and harassment, and socio-economic barriers that prevent students from accessing and completing higher education. Only 14% of Laotian, 17% of Hmong and Cambodian, and 27% of Vietnamese Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 54% of Asian Americans overall.

SEARAC’s education policy work pushes for better data on SEAA student needs and outcomes. We also advocate for the rights of English learner students and their families, school engagement of our immigrant and refugee parents, college access for low-income students, community-tailored programs, and civil rights protections for students.

Key Resources

  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Webinar
    Offers an overview of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the need for data disaggregation and targeted supports for English language learners, and strategies for engagement with stakeholders
  • Moving Beyond the Asian Check Box
    This SEARAC policy brief aims to demonstrate national demand for data disaggregation to address the academic achievement gaps that exist within Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities

Current Campaigns

SEARAC created the national All Students Count campaign with our local and national partners to push federal, state, and local agencies to collect and report data broken down by Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander ethnic groups. Propelled by this advocacy campaign, Washington state, Minnesota, and Rhode Island recently passed data disaggregation laws and the U.S. Department of Education created the first-ever grant program to help interested states collect disaggregated data of Asian American and Pacific Islander students. Washington, Minnesota, and Rhode Island state education agencies are also current grantees of this federal program.