has used ACS data for the number of immigrant children and youth to determine the state allocations.

ACS DATA AND ESTIMATES

Definition of Immigrant Children and Youth

Like the ACS data that the department uses to determine students with LEP, the data on immigrant status are based on self-reports. Three ACS questions are used to identify recent immigrants: (1) whether each household member was born in the United States, (2) whether he or she is a citizen, and (3) for those not born in the United States, when the person entered the country—see Box 6-1. Household members between the ages of 3 and 21 are classified as recent immigrants if they are not U.S. citizens at birth1 and entered the country less than 3 years prior to the survey.

Evaluation of the Survey Questions

Like the questions on language spoken and English speaking ability, the ACS questions that define an immigrant child or youth were adopted from the long form of the decennial census at the time the ACS was developed. They have also been a part of the Current Population Survey for some time. They play a critical role in the Census Bureau’s annual population estimates program as the basis for the net international migration estimate. Owing to their importance, the objectivity and collectability of these questions has been the subject of several analyses over the years, culminating in a major 2006 Census Bureau ACS test of the new and modified item content (Harris et al., 2007).

Although much of the research has focused on missing content, such as parental nativity and date of naturalization, the “year of arrival” question has been the subject of some evaluation because of the concern that the current question allows reporting of only one entry to the United States even when the respondents have entered multiple times, and the interpretation of “coming to live” in the United States may be too broad. Redstone and Massey (2003) identified problems with the year of entry question as a source of underestimation of the number of years that have elapsed since a person’s arrival. Most likely, the inconsistencies were the result of multiple entries into the United States by persons who may have provided the year of a recent entry rather than their first entry (Schmidley and Robinson, 2003).

The content test report suggested that there was confusion among both respondents and ACS field representatives about the kind of information that the entry question was seeking and about how to report multiple arrivals. This confusion was evident in the content test itself, when a test group that was asked further probing questions about year of arrival was not able to provide accurate answers to the ques-

1

The category includes respondents who indicate they are U.S. citizens by naturalization.



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