An Integrative Synthesis of Literature on Disproportionality in Special Education

Published on Feb 19, 2018in Journal of Special Education
· DOI :10.1177/0022466918758707
Rebecca A. Cruz5
Estimated H-index: 5
(University of California, Berkeley),
Janelle E. Rodl3
Estimated H-index: 3
(SFSU: San Francisco State University)
Sources
Abstract
Research studies have historically indicated that students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds are overidentified for special education, suggesting bias in referral, assessment, and pl...
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This study investigated how student and school-level socioeconomic status (SES) measures predict students’ odds of being identified for special education, particularly high-incidence disabilities. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten cohort, hierarchical models were used to determine the relations of student and school SES to special education identification. Results indicated neither student-level SES variables for parent education, prestige, and income, nor school-level ag...
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#2George Farkas (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 61
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We synthesized empirical work to evaluate whether Black children are disproportionately overrepresented in special education. We identified 22 studies that met a priori inclusion criteria including use of at least 1 covariate in the reported analyses. Evidence of overrepresentation declined markedly as the studies included one or more of 3 “best-evidence” methodological features (i.e., analyses of individual-level data, a nationally representative sample, a control for individual-level academic ...
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In this technical comment, we argue that Morgan et al.’s claim that there is no minority overrepresentation in special education is in error due to (a) sampling considerations, (b) inadequate support from previous and current analyses, and (c) their failure to consider the complexities of special education disproportionality.
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#1Paul L. Morgan (PSU: Pennsylvania State University)H-Index: 32
#2George Farkas (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 61
We reply to three critiques regarding our reporting that White, English-speaking children are much more likely than otherwise similar racial, ethnic, and language minority children to receive special education services in the United States. We show how each critique is unsound. We present further evidence of the robustness of our findings.
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#1Paul L. Morgan (PSU: Pennsylvania State University)H-Index: 32
#2George Farkas (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 61
Last. Michael Cook (PSU: Pennsylvania State University)H-Index: 7
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We investigated whether minority children attending U.S. elementary and middle schools are disproportionately represented in special education. We did so using hazard modeling of multiyear longitudinal data and extensive covariate adjustment for potential child-, family-, and state-level confounds. Minority children were consistently less likely than otherwise similar White, English-speaking children to be identified as disabled and so to receive special education services. From kindergarten ent...
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Even with increased risks, many children demonstrate resiliency and avoid being labeled for special education; however, research on risk and resilience has been problematic because of inadequate statistical models, limitations of available data, and the exclusion of key protective factors. This study used a national sample to examine the influence that family and school risk and protective factors had on special education identification longitudinally. Discrete-time hazard longitudinal modeling ...
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Research on racial/ethnic categorization provides insight on how broad processes, such as migration trends or political shifts, precede the establishment of new categories, but does not detail the struggles and compromises that emerge between state and non-state actors. As a result, we know little about why new census categories are defined in certain ways or how they become legitimated. This article addresses this gap by using an organizational lens to reconstruct how the Hispanic category emer...
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The disproportionate representation of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in special education programs is a complex issue that has long troubled practitioners, educational leaders, and researchers. This article reports on a mixed-method collaborative case analysis that examined local patterns of disproportionality in an urban school district and the district’s systemic transformation effort to address disproportionality. In a close collaboration with the district’s ...
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The disproportionate representation of minority students in special education has been a concern for decades. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates states to have policies and procedures in place to prevent inappropriate over identification or disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of students with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of minority representation in special education given the mandate and related efforts to...
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Studies related to disproportionate special education identification of students from historically marginalized groups have used increasingly complex analyses to understand the interplay of factors...
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A timely diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is important for children as that may help inform the best services and supports needed for optimal outcomes. However, disparities in the identification of ASD have been consistently documented for racial/ethnic minority and immigrant populations. The majority of studies of immigrant populations have focused on the qualitative experience of ASD, however, greater knowledge about the predictors of the age of initial ASD diagnosis is needed. This...
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