Proportional Representation of Students with Disabilities Based on Race, Gender, and Socio-Economic Status in Virginia
Casey, Maxine Austin
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For more than three decades, research has shown that the special education referral, identification, and placement processes can be discriminatory (Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, and Higareda, 2005). Proportionately, there are more minority students of low socio-economic status than are White students in special education categories that are the high incidence special education categories. Students with high-incidence disabilities make up 80% of all students with disabilities. High-Incidence disabilities share these characteristics, (1) often hard to distinguish from students without disabilities, especially in non-school settings, (2) often display a combination of academic, and (3) behavioral and social problems (Friend and Bursuck, 2012). Special Education licensure and endorsement varies from state to state, as does the terminology used in describing the knowledge that is required and the students to whom it applies. In most states students identified for special education services for the categories of Intellectual Disability (ID), Specific Learning Disability (SLD) and students with Emotional Disturbance (ED) are identified as high- incidence disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the status of relative representation of male and female, minority, and low socioeconomic students with disabilities served in special education programs across 132 public school divisions within eight Superintendent']s regions in the 2013-14 school year, as published by the Virginia Department of Education. Data from the Virginia Department Education (VDOE) were analyzed to present an analysis of three categories of the special education populations (ID, SLD and ED), racial, (Black and Hispanic) and socio-economic status. Findings indicated that fewer than 50% of the school divisions in the Commonwealth of Virginia showed disproportionality, however when examined by Superintendent's regions there were some geographical areas that showed some concentrations of disproportionality.
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