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Home Publications Getting It Right: Reference Guides for Registering Students With Non-English Names

Getting It Right: Reference Guides for Registering Students With Non-English Names

by Jason Greenberg Motamedi, Allyson Hagen, Zafreen Jaffery and Sun Young Yoon

Getting a student's name right is the first step in welcoming him or her to school. Staff members who work with student-level data also know the importance of accurately and consistently recording a student's name in order to track student data over time, to match files across data sets, and to make meaning from the data. For students whose home language is not English, properly recording their information can be more difficult. School personnel who register students may not be familiar with different naming conventions in languages other than English. For example, Cantonese names usually list the family (or last) name first, followed by the given (or first) name. Typically, Russian male and female last names have different endings, so a brother and sister may use slightly different versions of the same name. Incorrectly entering student names can mean that the same student is listed in different databases in various ways and often with incomplete records. Consequently, students who are eligible for services (e.g., English learner support) can be unidentified or overlooked. This set of naming conventions reference guides can serve as a reference for accurately entering students' names in school, district, and state databases. The guides are currently available for students with home languages of Cantonese, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. In addition to facilitating accurate data entry, these guides can help ensure that school and district staff (e.g., front office staff and registrars) address and greet parents and other family members in a culturally responsive and respectful fashion. The naming conventions reference guides provide a general overview of the naming practices in a given language (Cantonese, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese). Each guide will help school and district staff become more familiar with what to expect when they encounter students from these cultural backgrounds

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