Expanded Guides Available to Help Schools Register Students With Non-English Names


March 8, 2017


Smiling girl writing at desk

Designed to help educators, administrators and front office staff properly enter students with non-English names into state, district and school databases, “Getting It Right: Reference Guides for Registering Students with Non-English Names” has been updated and now features naming conventions for 11 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The idea for the guides began five years ago, when Greenberg Motamedi and members of his research team were analyzing large data sets and found that non-English names were often entered incorrectly.

Consequently, students whose names are entered incorrectly at the school level can be listed in different databases in various ways—often with incomplete records—and students who are eligible for certain services, such as English learner support or special education, can be unidentified or overlooked.

“It is really important that students names are correctly entered,” says Jason Greenberg Motamedi, one of the Education Northwest researchers who worked on the guides. “If names are entered in different and incorrect ways, students will fall through the cracks and not get the support that they need to succeed in school.”

Originally published in June 2016 by the Institute of Education Sciences, the guides have been revised based on stakeholder feedback.

Drawing from a report by REL Appalachia that highlighted the issue, the Education Northwest researchers set out to create something easy to use.

“The idea was to make naming conventions as understandable as possible,” Greenberg Motamedi says.

Noting that the guides do not include many nuances of language and culture, he also stresses the importance of talking to families.

“The guides, at the very least, can help school staff members ask families the right questions about their students’ names,” Greenberg Motamedi says.

Download “Getting It Right: Reference Guides for Registering Students with Non-English Names” from the IES website.