Proportional Representation of Students with Disabilities based on Race, Gender and Socio-Economic Status in Virginia 2008-2009 and 2013-2014: Has it changed?
Although there are strong opinions both for and against identifying exceptional children, it is important school divisions as well as schools ensure that student sub groups are not overrepresented in special education.
The purpose of this study was to determine the representation of students in special education by category (SWD, ED, SLD, and ID) and by demographic identifier (Ethnicity, Gender, SES) for 2008-2009 and to determine changes in representation between 2008-2009 and 2013-2014 in the 132 school divisions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 2013-2014 data reported in the Casey (2017) study were used in this study. In addition, this study examined specific disability categories by race, gender, and socioeconomic status from all 132 Virginia public school divisions and compared data from 2008-2009 to data from 2013-2014.
Data for the study were retrieved from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) related to specific categories. Findings included a comparison of the data for 2008-2009 and 2013-2014. In 2008-2009 some data were missing, which may have contributed to the limited findings. Overrepresentation was determined through the use of the standard 10 formula for overrepresentation.
Findings for 2008-2009 revealed that Black students were identified as over represented in the area of Intellectual Disabilities (ID) in 2% of the school divisions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the school year 2008-2009, 0% of school divisions identified Hispanic students as disproportionate in the areas of ID, Students with Disabilities (SWD), Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), and Emotionally Disturbed (ED). In the 2008-2009 school year, 2% of the school divisions in Virginia identified economically disadvantaged students as disproportionate in the disability category SWD, and 20% of the school divisions identified economically disadvantaged students as disproportionate in the disability category SLD. Additionally, 17% of the school divisions identified economically disadvantaged students as disproportionate in the disability category ED, and 38% percent of the school divisions in Virginia identified economically disadvantaged students as disproportionate in the disability category ID. The 2008-2009 data, when compared to the 2013-2014 data, were less disproportionate.