The Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality at New York University
reported the following:
“Similar to the achievement gap, racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education is a significant equity concern. Across schools in the U.S., Blacks represent 20% of students with disabilities and Latinos nearly 18% (Data Accountability Center, 2007 ). Meanwhile, Black students represent 15.6 percent of student enrollment and Latinos 20 percent (National Center on Education Statistics, 2007 ). This pattern of disproportionate representation in special education varies across the U.S.” (Equity in Education-Addressing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: Technical Assistance Manual for Identifying Root Causes, Volume 1, April 2009 [PDF])
As summarized in Disporportionality and Overrepresentation, Module 5 from Building the Legacy: A Training Curriculum on IDEA 2004, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of 2004 have made numerous changes to how states and local educational agencies (LEAs) must now address disproportionate representation. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Memo 07-09 (PDF) provides a discussion of the requirements related to 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 300.600(d)(3) for disproportionate representation as it relates to Indicators 9 and 10 of the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report, followed by a discussion of the requirements of 34 CFR Section 300.646 relating to significant disproportionality.
Changes in IDEA Part B regulations include, for example, a more extensive scan for instances of disproportionality, more extensive remedies where findings of disproportionality occur, and a focus on the development of personnel preparation models to ensure appropriate placement and services for all students and to reduce disproportionality in eligibility, placement, and disciplinary actions. A table attached to the above-cited memo highlights requirements for both disproportionate representation and significant disproportionality.
IDEA requires that where a determination of significant disproportionality (as discussed in the OSEP Memo 07-09) is found, the SEA shall provide for review and, if appropriate, revision of policies, procedures, and practices used in identification and placement to ensure compliance with the requirements of IDEA. New provisions of the law additionally stipulate that when states identify significant disproportionality, those states must require LEAs to reserve the maximum amount of funds under Section 613(f) to provide comprehensive, coordinated early intervening services (CEIS) to students in the LEAs, particularly students in groups that are significantly overidentified, and to report publicly on the revision of policies, procedures, and practices used in identification and placement.
The OSEP provides guidance on CEIS under Part B of IDEA in a memorandum (DOC) that describes and explains the following: federal requirements for the use of CEIS funds by LEAs identified as having significant disproportionality by race or ethnicity; what is meant by coordinated early intervening services; and the calculation methodologies.
Questions and Answers on Disproportionality
Q and A: Questions and Answers on Disproportionality
Addresses questions related to disproportionality. OSEP, U.S. Department of Education (2009).
National Technical Assistance Centers
California Comprehensive Center at WestEd
The role and purpose of the federally funded California Comprehensive Center is to provide the California Department of Education with high-quality, relevant, and useful information, resources, tools, and consultative expertise so that it can lead and sustain state-level initiatives that result in improved outcomes for students.
Equity Assistance Center, Region IX
California is served by Region IX Equity Assistance Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide technical assistance and training, upon request, in the areas of race, sex, and national origin, to public school districts and other responsible governmental agencies to promote equitable educational opportunities. The centers work in the areas of civil rights, equity, and school reform. This assistance helps schools and communities ensure that equitable educational opportunities are available and accessible for all children.
The Equity Alliance at Arizona State University
A consortium of funded programs that promote equity, access, participation, and positive outcomes for all students.
NYU Steinhardt Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality
Provides professional development trainings, coaching, training follow-ups, materials, and resources that include a Web-based clearinghouse, a disproportionality data repository (DDR), Data Analysis Workbook, research-based articles, journals, and manuals.
Technical Assistance and Consulting Services Center (TACS), University of Oregon
Provides consultation, technical assistance, training, product development, and information services to assist and support SEAs and Part C Lead Agencies in systemic improvement policies, procedures, and practices to improve programs and services for children with disabilities and their families.
Addressing Minority Disproportionality of Special Education: What We Know and What We Can Do
A training module for administrators addressing minority disproportionality in special education. Russell J. Skiba, Center for Evaluation and Educational Policy, Indiana University.
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.
Practice Briefs and Articles
Achieving Equity in Special Education: History, Status and Current Challenges
Offers recommendations based on an understanding of racial and ethnic disparities in special education as a multiple determined phenomenon and gives factors contributing to disproportionate representation in special education. Russell J. Skiba et al. (2008) The Council for Exceptional Children.
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.
Disproportionate Representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students in Special Education: Measuring the Problem
An overview of the history and scope of the problem of disproportional representation. Martha Coutinho and Donald Oswald (2006) National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems.
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.
Education Research Brief-Disproportionality: A Look at Special Education and Race in the Commonwealth
Considers promising practices for ensuring that all students from racial and ethnic minorities are given every opportunity to succeed in school. Matthew Deninger (2008) Massachusetts Department of Education.
Preventing Disproportionate Representation: Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Prereferral Interventions
Practitioner brief written for parents and teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students; discusses culturally and linguistically responsive prereferral interventions for preventing the disproportionate representation of CLD students in special education. Shernaz B. García and Alba A. Ortiz (2006) The Equity Alliance at Arizona State University.
Truth in Labeling: Disproportionality in Special Education
A guide designed to assist local and state leaders in initiating critical conversations within their schools and communities about disproportionality. National Education Association (2007).
Unproven Links: Can Poverty Explain Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education?
Considers the degree to which poverty contributes to disproportionality in special education. Russell J. Skiba et al. (2005) The Journal of Special Education.
Harry, Beth, and Janette Klingner. 2006. Why Are So Many Minority Students in Special Education? Understanding Race and Disability in Schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Addresses issues related to why minority students are placed into special education programs without accurate evaluation.
Lindsey, Randall, Kikanza Nuri Robins, and Raymond Terrell. 2009. Cultural proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. Offers approaches and activities for enabling educational leaders to gain a personal understanding of what cultural proficiency means in practice; use collaborative activities to effect change in a school; and lead a learning community toward becoming a culturally proficient organization.
Losen, Daniel, Gary Orfield, and James Jeffords. 2002. Racial Inequity in Special Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Offers educators and policy makers strategies for ensuring equal educational opportunities for all of our students, whatever their race or socioeconomic status.
Webinars and Videos
Addressing Racial Disproportionality in Special Education
Provides an overview of IDEA 2004 requirements on racial and ethnic disproportionality in special education and a discussion of ways to address the issue. Daniel Losen (2006) Wisconsin Department of Public Education.
The Right IDEA
This Web site provides technical assistance and training products related to disproportionality. Search on a specific term, such as disproportionality, to find many resources.
Response to Intervention (RTI) and Disproportionality Equity Forum
Features a panel discussion on the intersection of RtI and disproportionality in special education. NYU Steinhardt (2009).