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CDE Guidance on Disproportionality

Critical values and beliefs, background, goals, data, and improvement strategies related to disproportionality.

Background: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA)

The IDEA made many changes in how state educational agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) must now address disproportionality in special education. In the area of disproportionality, SEAs are required to do the following:

Critical Values and Beliefs about Disproportionality

The California Department of Education (CDE) uses critical values and beliefs related to disproportionality in California public schools (DOC; Updated 14-Aug-2012) to support school districts and select resources. These values and beliefs are consistent with the guiding beliefs, principles, and performance benchmarks of the CDE. Relevant articles are:

California Goals and Data

IDEA mandated each state to develop a six-year State Performance Plan (SPP) that must describe the data calculations and set measurable and rigorous targets for each of the SPP indicators following Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) instructions. These targets or goals are the following:

In general, there is a data trend showing African American students are overrepresented in special education and related services while Asian students are underrepresented. These disproportions are observed using both total statewide percentage calculations and also when compared to the overall representation of students with disabilities (SPP Indicators 9 and 10).

Guidance and Resources to Identified Districts

The CDE annually identifies certain LEAs as having disproportionate representation based on a calculation methodology explained in the Annual Performance Report (APR FFY2011). Any district with noncompliant policies, procedures, or practices as a result of inappropriate identification is identified and a corrective action plan implemented.

Additionally, CDE identifies LEAs as having significant disproportionality pursuant to the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This calculation includes race or ethnicity with respect to the identification of children with disabilities; the identification of children in specific disability categories; the placement of children with disabilities in particular educational settings; or the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions. Calculation methodology utilizes district data for SSP Indicators 9, 10, and 4b. These LEAs are required to use 15 percent of IDEA funds for coordinated early intervening services (CEIS) External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC).

Guidance—Significant Disproportionality
Coordinated Early Intervening Services Programmatic Improvement Process

CDE recommends that all LEAs identified as having significant disproportionality contact State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project (SPP-TAP) staff for assistance with the Programmatic Improvement Process. More information can be found on the SPP TAP Web site External link opens in new window or tab..

This guidance is based upon the promising practices for improvement detailed in the national disproportionality literature and the Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) External link opens in new window or tab. (DOC) federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

LEAs having significant disproportionality engage in a process for systems change designed to provide LEA and school improvement teams with the knowledge and technical expertise to develop a thorough understanding of problems, issues, and concerns in their schools, and what needs to be done to address disproportionality.

The completion of the SD-CEIS Programmatic Improvement Process involves the following phases and activities:

Phase One – Getting Started
Phase Two – Planning Phase
Phase Three – Implementing and Sustaining

More information about the Coordinated Early Intervening Services Programmatic Improvement Process can be found on the SPP TAP Web site External link opens in new window or tab..

Questions:   Policy & Program Services | SIGDISP@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-2409
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