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Overrepresentation of Minority Students in Special Education
Transcript of Overrepresentation of Minority Students in Special Education
The Overrepresentation of Minority
Students in Special Education Mario Torrence The overrepresentation of minority students in special education classes is a topic that has sparked a great deal of controversy within educational communities. In schools throughout the United States, minority children are labeled with characteristics that may not truly describe them. (Artiles & Trent, 1994) Overrepresentation has been explained is “the extent to which students with particular characteristics are placed in a specific type of educational program or provided access to services, resources, curriculum, and instructional and classroom management strategies” (Salend & Garrick Duhaney, 2005). The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles all individuals with disabilities to a “free appropriate public education” and promises unbiased assessment, identification, and placement of children with disabilities. Children are not to be identified as disabled because of poor achievement due to environmental “disadvantage” or ethnic, linguistic, or racial difference. This is made clear by the given evaluation measures and the definitions of disability conditions in IDEA. However, some ethnic groups remain overrepresented as disabled, especially as mildly mentally retarded and seriously emotionally disturbed. State and local representation rates vary widely but in many cases show even more marked patterns of overrepresentation (Oswald, 2001). What is overrepresentation? Purpose:
The purpose of this research is to evaluate the degree to which minority students are overrepresented in special education. Many of these instances occur as a result of failures of the general education system, inequalities in the referral, assessment and placement procedures, and issues caused due to social class. Factors that Contribute to Overrepresentation poor teacher preparation (Echevarria & Graves,2003)
inequalities in the referral, assessment and placement procedures (Agbenyega & Jiggetts, 1999)
socio-economic factors (Williams & Collins, 2001)
Other factors: Limited English proficiency (Artiles, A. J., & Ortiz, A. , 2002 )
Cultural/Ethnic factors that contribute to referrals, testing, and incorrect placement of children from racial and ethnic minorities in special education programs (Agbenyega, S., & Jiggetts, J. ,1999) Disproportionality in
Special Education "Culturally responsive educational systems are grounded in the beliefs that all culturally and linguistically diverse students can excel in academic endeavors when their culture, language, heritage, and experiences are valued and used to facilitate their learning and development, and the are provided access to high quality teachers, programs and resources."
NCCRESt 2005 The Purpose of My Research Since the late 1960s researchers have fought
to educate the masses and dispel some myths
about the overrepresentation of minorities in
special education. Many researchers and school
officials have debated that this issue may have existeda at one time but withthe current safeguards is an issue of the past.
The purpose of this study is to take look at the issue of overrepresentation in special education and what can be done to reduce it. The following research questions guided the study:
What are the factors that lead to the overrepresentation of minority students in special education?
Is the overrepresentation of minority students in special education more so a result of socioeconomic factors?
Are the current practices being used to alleviate the problem of overrepresentation effective?
Do educators believe that overrepresentation is a viable issue?
Overrepresentation - there is a specific group or demographic that has exceeded normal representation of any said group, and is therefore represented greater than it should be.
Disproportionality - the over -or-under representation of a given population group, often defined by racial and ethnic backgrounds, but also defined by socioeconomic status, national origin, English proficiency, gender, and sexual orientation, in a specific population category.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - A law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation; it governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 2009).
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -Legislation designed to help create high performing schools based on accountability provisions that build upon rigorous academic content and achievement standards, and assessments based on those standards. NCLB expresses the ambitious, long-term goal of proficiency in reading and mathematics for all students by the 2013-14 school year, and delineates specific steps that States, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools must take to reach that goal.
Words to Know: In 1968, definitive article entitled "Special Education for the Mildly Retarded: Is Much of it Justifiable? by Lloyd Dunn disputed that the identification and placement in special education of socio-economically deprived students, often from minority backgrounds, with mild learning problems was of concern because of the placement of these children into segregated settings, the questionable benefits of these placements, and the disadvantageous effects of labeling.
Dunn explicitly called attention to the fact that minority students were labeled as mildly mentally retarded and their white peers were not labeled at all, even when the white students evidenced more significant levels of mental retardation than the minority students.
Dunn estimated that 60 percent to 80 percent of students identified as disabled were from low socioeconomic status (SES) or ethnic minority households. Most of these investigations have examined the extent to which children of racial/ethnic minority heritage are disproportionately represented (e.g., Donovan and Cross 2002; Dunn 1968; Hosp and Reschly 2003; Mercer 1973; Oswald et al. 1999). The Beginning (Lloyd Dunn) Useful
Resources and Links National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems
The Council for Exceptional Children
Office of Special Education Programs
Agbenyega, S., & Jiggetts, J. (1999). Minority children and their overrepresentation in special education. Education, 119(4), 619-632.
Arnold, M., & Lassmann, M. E. (2003). Overrepresentation of minority students in Special education. Education, 124 (2), 230-236.
Artiles, A. J., & Ortiz, A. (Eds.). (2002). English language learners with special needs: Identification, placement, and instruction. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Artiles, A. J., & Trent, S. C. (1994). Overrepresentation of minority students in special education: A continuing debate. The Journal of Special Education, 27, 410-437.
Blanchett, W. (2006). Disproportionate representation of African American students in special education: Acknowledging the role of White privilege and racism. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 24–28.
Dunn, L. (1968). Special education for the mildly retarded: Is much of it
Exceptional Children, 23(1), 5-24.
Garber, H.L.(1988). The Milwaukee Project: Preventing mental retardation in children at risk. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.
Harry, B. & Klingner, J. (2007). Discarding the Deficit Model: Improving Instruction for Students with Learning Needs. Educational Leadership, 64(5):16-21.
Hosp, J. L., & Reschly, D. J. (2004). Disproportionate representation of minority students in special education: Academic, demographic, and economic predictors. Exceptional Children, 70, 185-199.
Kozol, J. (1991). Savage inequalities: Children in America’s schools. New York: Harper Perennial.
Kozol, J. (2005). "Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid." Harper's Magazine, 1 Sep 2005.
McLoyd V. “Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Child Development.” American Psychologist. 1998;53(2):185–204.
Oswald, D. P., Coutinho, M. J., & Best, A. M. (1999). Ethnic representation in special education: The influence of school-related economic and demographic variables. The Journal of Special Education, 32(4), 194-206.
Patton, J. M. (1998). The disproportionate representation of african americans in special education: Looking behind the curtain for understanding and solutions. The Journal of Special Education, 32(1), 25-31.
Skiba, R. J., Simmons, A. B., Ritter, S., Gibb, A. C., Rauch, M. K., Cuadrado, J., et al. (2008). Achieving equity in special education: History, status, and current challenges. Exceptional Children, 74(3), 264–288.
Skiba, R. J., Bush, L. D., & Knesting, K. K. (2002). Culturally competent assessment: More than non-biased tests. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 11, 61-78.
Skiba, R., Simmon, A., Ritter, S., Kohler, K., Henderson, M. & Wu, T. (2006). The context of minority disproportionality: Practitioner perspectives on special education referral. Teachers College Record, 108 (7), 1424-1459.
Watkins, A.M., & Kurtz, P.D. (2001). Using solution focused intervention to address African-American male overrepresentation in special education: A case study. Children & Schools, 23(4), 223-235. Investigations of disproportionate representation increasingly attempt to account for confounding factors when estimating whether a child’s race or ethnicity predicts his or her special education placement (e.g., Hosp and Reschly 2003; Oswald et al. 1999). Skiba and colleagues’ (2005) analyses used the most extensive set of covariates to date. Here the investigators statistically controlled for differences in poverty, the school district’s resources, and measures of academic performance and behavior.
Both Oswald et al (1999) and Hosp and Reschly (2003), Skiba et al (2005) found that race and ethnicity continued to be statistically significant predictors of special education placement, although the effect varied by disability category. For example, African Americans were 2.6 times as likely to be identified as MR and 1.3 times as likely to be identified as EBD as non-African American children but only .98 times as likely to be identified as LD. Race as a Factor of Overrepresentation Reducing Overrepresentation Equitable Distribution of Resources
Low income school districts have the least resources and most inexperienced teachers. These are the very schools that consist of a large population of minorities. Systemic changes needed to be effected to attract more experienced teachers trained in culturally sensitive methodologies. Moreover, more resources need to be allotted to these schools (US Commission on Civil Rights, 2007)
Early intervention Programming
The Milwaukee Project (Garber, 1988) illustrates this point. Children in the study were identifies to be at risk for intellectual disability based on their socioeconomic environment and their mother’s IQ.
Increase in Parental Involvement in the Educational Process
Parents need to be aware of their rights and the services that are available to them. Parents, educators and government officials should work together for the best possible student outcomes (US Commission on Civil Rights, 2007). Parents need to become advocates for their children. An advocate is knowledgeable of the legal aspects of special education and protects the interests of the student and their family. They can also affect political and the systemic change in special education services (Artiles, 1994).