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Ancestry/Ethnic Origins

Ancestry/Ethnic Origins: WISEdata

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The Ancestry/Ethnic Origins data element describes racial or ethnic subgroups that a student belongs to. This data element captures more specific information than the Race/Ethnicity data element so that schools and districts can better understand the barriers to success and support students from marginalized groups.

The available options for this data element depend on the data entered in the Race/Ethnicity data element. See below for a list of available options for each ethnicity.

For students whose race is identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, refer to the Tribal Affiliation data element.

This data element is not required for public or Choice schools but is highly recommended.

Ethnicity Ancestry/Ethnic Origins Options
Hispanic or Latino Colombian
Puerto Rican
Decline to indicate
Asian Burmese
Decline to indicate
Black or African-American African-American
Decline to indicate

USES: Racial and ethnic origin data can be used by school districts and DPI to identify and address gaps in educational services to students.


FAQs, Details, and Points to Note

Not required for public or Choice schools but highly recommended.

  1. Is race required? Reporting student race is required to attain a WISEid for the WISEdata student reporting collection. For more information see the Race and Ethnicity data element page. DPI is required to collect data on the following:
    1. American Indian – Alaskan Native
    2. Asian
    3. Black – African American
    4. Native Hawaiian – Pacific Islander
    5. White
  2. Is ethnic origins data required? No, this is a voluntary data collection, but is strongly recommended. A student can still report their race and not be required to report their ethnic origin. As with race and tribal affiliation, families may have significant concerns related to questions about their race, ethnicity, and ancestry. Students and families are the best source for this data. Multiple ethnicities can be reported. As such, the LEA’s responsibility is to be supportive to families during this conversation. For example:
    1. Be aware of the language used when communicating to families about this data collection. Use plain language that is kind and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or acronyms.
    2. Provide a reason to families and state the intended purpose.
      • An example of a general scenario would be to explain that this data is collected because it will allow staff to assist and serve students better.
      • An example of a more specific scenario would be to explain your school wants to be inclusive of the community’s cultural beliefs and align these beliefs to the school’s PBIS expectations. Collecting ancestry/ethnic origin would give insight into the percentage of students that identify with these cultural values. Staff can then learn more about the community’s cultural beliefs system and then create appropriate school expectations.
  3. Why is DPI collecting student ethnic origin data from Local Educational Agencies (LEAs)?  This data collection is a priority request from communities, particularly Hmong and Sudanese communities, in Wisconsin. This data gives visibility to students’ identities. Disaggregating student data by ancestry and ethnic origin data provides informational statistics to identify gaps in services to students.  Identifying ancestry/ethnic origin data brings the necessary data to plan and implement culturally responsive education. DPI is collecting this data for these reasons and many more, all of which support DPI’s mission for Educational Equity. Ancestry & Ethnic origin data can be used by DPI and our Wisconsin LEAs to: 
    1. Understand the ethnicity of the students and families served in Wisconsin schools.
    2. Review equitable practices.
    3. Respond to requests made by several ethnicity-based community organizations across Wisconsin.
    4. Help LEAs, local community-based organizations and local government, State, Tribal and Federal agencies located within a certain geographic area to better develop useful, pertinent, and supportive partnerships.
    5.  Support the US Census, which does not easily capture this data. This partnership between schools and the Census allow the Census to enforce non discrimination in education and employment, and to enforce policies, regulations and laws aligned to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    6. Support LEAs in making data-driven and data-informed decisions about the needs within their student population, such as:
      • Language services and supports.
      • Education plans.
      • Career development for post-high school life.
      • Utilizing culturally responsive materials. 
  4. What type of proof can a district be shown/look up to verify? LEAs cannot require families to provide “proof.” The LEA's responsibility is to enter the data provided by the families.
  5. What if Parents refuse to identify their ethnic origins? If the family or student does not identify an ancestry or ethnic origin, it should not be reported. Leave this data field blank.
  6. Are grants or funds connected to reporting this data in WISEdata? This data element is not currently reported by DPI to the US Department of Education. Currently there are no direct grants or funds connected to this data element. Some LEAs use this data collection for grant opportunities through other local, state, and national organizations.
  7. How does this data element interact with the Tribal Affiliations data element? The Ancestry/Ethnic Origins is a separate data collection from the Tribal Affiliations. Please visit the Tribal affiliations data element page FAQ #3 for more information. 
  8. Why are we only collecting ancestry/ethnic origin data for Hispanic, Black or African-American, and Asian? These are the racial categories for which DPI is most often asked for further breakdown information by community organizations. In addition, these are the ancestry/ethnic origin categories that receive the most attention in educational research and evaluation.


See also:

Tribal Affiliation data element page

Race & Ethnicity Identification Collection

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Race/Ethnicity Crosswalk

Individual level collections with automated file upload/download processes will use the individual race key for submitting data to DPI. Aggregate level collections and public reporting will use the Aggregate Reporting Category.

View the crosswalk document for race/ethnicity reporting help.


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