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.
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:
- Define, calculate, and report in the Consolidated California State Performance Plan (SPP) (DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010) for the state and the LEAs
- Monitor compliance
- Provide for the review and revision (if appropriate) of policies, procedures, and practices used in identification or placement of children with disabilities in LEAs
- Identify those LEAs with significant disproportionate representation and require them to use 15 percent of IDEA Part B funds for coordinated early intervening services (CEIS) (DOC)
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 that no LEA has the following:
- Disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education and related services overall (SPP Indicator 9, pages 88-94 [DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010]) or in specific disability categories (intellectual disability, specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, speech or language impairment, other health impairment, autism) (SPP Indicator 10, pages 95–110 [DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010]) that is the result of inappropriate identification.
- Suspensions and expulsions of children with disabilities greater than 10 days in a school year with a (overall) rate exceeding one percent (SPP Indicator 4a, pages 42–47 [DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010])
- Significant discrepancy in the rates of suspensions and expulsions for greater than 10 days in a school year of children with disabilities by race (SPP Indicator 4b, pages 42-47 [DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010])
Across California in 2008–09, African American students were overrepresented in special education and related services; Asian students were underrepresented. These disproportions are observed using both total statewide percentage calculations (Table 9a, page 46 of APR – 2010 [DOC; 2MB; Posted 29-Apr-2010]), and also when compared to the overall representation of students with disabilities. (Table 9b, page 46 of APR – 2010 [DOC; 2MB; Posted 29-Apr-2010])
African American students represent 10.92 percent of students with disabilities and Asian students nearly 6.84 percent. Meanwhile, African American students represent 7.5 percent of student enrollment and Asian 12.2 percent. (Table 9a, page 46 of APR – 2010 [DOC; 2MB; Posted 29-Apr-2010])
California Improvement Strategies
California is committed to supporting the following SPP Improvement Activities to reduce instances of disproportionality (APR – 2010, pages 48-51 [DOC; 2MB; Posted 29-Apr-2010]):
- Identify districts that are significantly disproportionate
- Establish plans for supervision and technical assistance
- Reconvene Larry P. Task Force to reexamine and publish revised matrix
- Conduct a study of promising practices among districts that are not disproportionate and that are achieving successful student outcomes on statewide testing
- Identify and disseminate research-based practices related to preventing disproportionate representation
- Refine policies, procedures, and practices
- Convene special stakeholder groups to develop recommendations for compliance-based and research-based practices reviews
- Incorporate preliminary self-review and improvement planning modules into monitoring software
- Participate in the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (SSPI) Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative
- Technical assistance to districts provided through the State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project (SPP-TAP)
Local Education Agency Reports
Short summaries of outcome data for special education programs and students in California school districts.
Makes available California district-level annual performance report measures for special education. Contains data collected from each indicator and performance measures but not the local compliance determination. Any inquires from the general public regarding local district determinations should be directed to the local school district.
Quality Assurance Process
Describes the monitoring process to ensure that students with disabilities receive the programs and services they need, positive results are achieved, and procedural safeguards are provided.
Training Materials, Manuals, Checklists, and Forms
CDE-Recommended Self-Review Options and Informational Webinars
Frequently Asked Questions - Significant Disproportionality Technical Assistance Guide (DOC; Updated 06-Mar-2013)
Provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) addressing significant disproportionality. The California Department of Education, Special Education Division, provides clarifications related to the Significant Disproportionality Technical Assistance Guide (SDTAG) released on August 27, 2012.
- Annotated Checklist for Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Special Education
Provides three checklists that address 1) district and school resource issues; 2) system policy, procedure, and practice issues at district, school, and classroom levels; and 3) environmental factors, all designed to aid in efforts to identify possible root causes of disproportionality and to help districts develop hypotheses and action plans for more detailed explorations of racial disproportionality. Daniel J. Losen (2008) Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The author, Dan Losen, notes that "The Checklist is designed to help school districts form hypotheses about likely contributors to disproportionality as they are manifested within the context of their particular district. Ideally, each of the three checklists should be reviewed and used as a diagnostic tool to highlight possibilities for change. School districts should use at least the first or the second checklist which focus on factors over which the district has some control."
Using the “Checklist” to Respond to Racial Disproportionality in Special Education
Provides an overview of the self-assessment tool developed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Daniel Losen, presenter (2011) State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project, California Department of Education.
- Equity in Special Education Placement: A School Self-Assessment Guide for Culturally Responsive Practice
Form A: (School Administrators Only) (PDF); Form B: (All Other Staff) (PDF).
A self-study tool that assists district teams in examining policies, procedures, and practices in general and special education to prevent disproportionality. Heraldo Richards, Alfredo Artiles, Janette Klingner, and Ayanna Brown (2005) National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt). It is ideal for school-level self-assessments and well suited for small districts.
NCCRESt has a second tool entitled Preventing Disproportionality by Strengthening District Policies and Procedures—An Assessment and Strategic Planning Process . This rubric is ideal for mid to large size districts and supports their completion of a district-wide self-assessment and strategic planning process. Districts should select the tool best suited to their district's needs and situation.
Preventing Disproportionality by Strengthening District Policies and Procedures
Provides an overview of the self-assessment tool developed by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems. Shelley Zion, presenter (2011) State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project, California Department of Education.
- Equity in Education - Addressing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education, Volume 1
Technical assistance manual for identifying root causes containing training modules for educators seeking to understand disproportionality as an outcome of policies, practices, and beliefs. Metropolitan Center for Urban Education (2009) NYU Steinhardt.
The Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: Data Analysis Workbook provides district/school personnel an overview of how to analyze special education and general education enrollment data in order to identify rates of disproportionality in special education classification and placement. The author Dr. Edward Fergus notes that the Data Analysis Workbook is part of the first module and it should be completed prior to conducting the first module. A smaller group assigned to gather and analyze the district data can complete the Data Analysis Workbook. The larger stakeholder team completes the training modules which includes the results of the Data Analysis Workbook. The Equity in Education tool can be completed in less time depending on the nature of the adaptations the stakeholder team would like to conduct. The activities and process description listed for each module should be viewed as a guide.
Getting to the Root Causes of Disproportionate Representation in Special Education Using Root Cause Tools
Provides an overview of this New York University self-assessment tool. Edward Fergus, presenter (2010) State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project, California Department of Education.
The author's intent for these tools is described in audio recordings found on the State Performance Plan Technical Assistance Project (SPP-TAP) Web site . Audio descriptions of 3-5 minutes are provided of each tool by their respective authors. Additionally webinars and learning modules go into detail on the appropriate uses of each of the tools.
Practice Briefs and Articles
Addressing the Disproportionate Representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education Through Culturally Responsive Educational Systems
Addresses the disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education and outlines the theoretical assumptions and principles that should guide efforts to reduce the disproportionate representation of these students in special education. Janette K. Klingner et al. (2005) Education Policy Analysis Archives.
Critical Values and Beliefs Related to Disproportionality in California Public Schools (DOC; 28-Oct-2009)
Lists the values and beliefs used to support districts and select resources related to disproportionality.
Distinguishing Difference from Disability: The Common Causes of Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education
Highlights some of the common policies, practices, and beliefs that place racial/ethnic minorities and low-income students at risk. Edward Fergus (2010) The Equity Alliance at Arizona State University.
The Special EDge
Newsletter addressing legal, policy, and human aspects of disproportionate representation. California Department of Education (2010).
Consolidated California State Performance Plan (SPP) (DOC; 2MB; Updated 01-Jun-2010)
Describes the six-year plan for special education in California required by IDEA.
Webinar and PowerPoint Presentations
Addressing Disproportionality: From Planning to Action
Defines disproportionality and considers how it is measured, why it is important, and what is being done and can be done about it. The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (2004).
Webinar on Disproportionality
Provides an overview of disproportionality (definitions, regulations, and root causes), a summary of California’s focus on disproportionality, and examples of approaches and strategies for addressing disproportionality. Stephanie Wood Garnett, facilitator (2010).