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Special Education Programs Minorities OverrepresentationResearch Proposal

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¶ … Northcentral University, 2013

The Overrepresentation of Minorities in Special Education

Concept Paper

Requirements for the Degree of

CHESTER R SMITH II

Prescott Valley, Arizona

Abstarct

Over representation of minorities in special education has been an issue that has been raised over many years. Dunn (1968) questioned this when he noted that the placement of these children in such settings was questionable as the benefits they received were not evident. He also noted that the labeling of these children as disabled had negative effects, in addition to the fact that even the special education setting was segregated. In the period 1978-1984, it was observed that African-Americans were overrepresented, especially with regard to mental retardation and emotional and behavioral disorders. It has thus been an issue that has plagued the American society for many years. While government efforts to provide children with learning disabilities the correct environment for learning have been commendable, the implementation of these has been the problem.

Literature will be reviewed on the issue to highlight what different authors have found out about the issue and how this particular study will progress discussion in this area and highlight new points coming up. It is with the understanding that there are factors that have not been considered that may influence this over representation that this paper hopes to improve (Guiberson, 2009).

The purpose of the qualitative study is to explore the special education referral processes, linking the underpinnings of social factors and cultural relationships within the education community when addressing the placement of students into the high incidence category. Many proponents of the current processes believe there is still a need for reliable and valid screening and assessment of the special education referral, evaluation, and placement process, and a need for more teacher training on meeting the needs culturally (Beratan, 2008).

The cause of this over representation will be investigated in the study as the disproportionality is measured in terms of the risk and ratio index as well as the composite index. The composite index will clarify whether the proportion of the one group in the population in the U.S.A. is reflected in the proportion of the special education referrals. The risk and ratio index will indicate to what degree the group qualifies for a service more than the other members of the population.

Introduction

The United States has made considerable progress from a nation whose schools were once legally segregated (Foster, 2004). However, there remain a great many indicators that we have quite a distance to travel in order to establish true racial equality in our schools. Data from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) annual reports to Congress on the implementation of IDEA show that over-representation of minority students in special education is a problem that affects educational equity in our country (United States Department of Education 2010). The U.S. educational system has a long history of utilizing classifications and other isolating measures to impose limitations; which may or may not affect the educational experience of minorities but strongly influences population and placement (Beratan, 2008). In addition, a brief exploration of minority social structures will attempt to explain the cause and effect of ethnic disparity in special education. This provides a suitable point of entrance into a discussion about the unequally high representation of minorities in special education, with the understanding that this overrepresentation is likely a consequence of racial disparities in our society, culture and educational system (Beratan, 2008). Furthermore, belief systems of students, parents and teachers of the high incidence student will be explored and analyzed to determine its effects on population. A collective case study anchored by a multi-perspectival analyses' of collected data will be used to assist in a more transparent understand of phenomena as seen through a social structure lens.

Background of the Problem

Special education is designed to provide support, attention and personalization to the academic experience for those who are most in need. As such, it is seen as an opportunity to assist and advance the learning and enrichment of students with particular learning deficiencies, developmental delays or other cognitive obstacles. The resources and educational training that are channeled into special education are, in their simplest form, designed to improve the educational experience and future prospects of students assigned there within (Watras, 2014). However, this same special classification that is aimed at advancing those who require it may function as a barrier for those who are unfairly relegated to this setting. Unfortunately, this is the risk that faces many students in a cultural context where minority status makes one more predisposed to such classification.

Although, students with disabilities can be classified in many different ways such as; mental retardation, emotional disturbed and specific learning disabilities, currently the classification high incidence disability is the focus of this research. High incidence students are categorized as; communication disorders, specific learning disabilities, mild/moderate mental retardation and emotional disorders (Beratan, 2008). Students classified as high incidence disabled represent ninety-four percent of students with disabilities and have been at the center of research in recent years, yet it is still unclear if high incidence students affect minority populations and disparity in special education (Salend, 2005).

In addition, the IDEA has established uniformed procedures and fundamental rights, providing financial assistance, and providing support for research to prevent variances in state and local programs. The National Council on Disability and the Beach Center on Families and Disability examined the IDEA procedures on a State and Local level and determined "No matter how effective IDEA has been, there are still significant shortcomings in its implementation" (United States Department of Education 2010). The National Council on Disability urged Congress, and state and local education agencies to still do more to ensure that every student with a disability has an individualized program of free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.

Statement of the Problem

The problem to be studied is the nature and degree of social factors and cultural relationships within the education community that disproportionately influence the identification and placement of minority students in special education. The proposed research links the effects of socio-economic climate, cultural barriers, and the belief systems of educators when addressing the placement of students into the high incidence category in New Jersey. The state special education best practices are monitored and governed by the uniformed programs established by the IDEA (United States Department of Education 2010). One would expect that the incidence of students who have disabilities would be equally distributed among different student populations. However, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) state that state and local agencies still yield high numbers of minority students identified for special educational services (United States Department of Education 2010).

Furthermore, paramount in the referral process is professional judgment of counselors, teacher observations as well as parent input, which are bound by personal and social belief systems that could also affect special education populations. This issue has been of great concern for many years and touches on many elements of educational practice, from the referral process for special education, to the instructional strategies used by teachers, including beliefs about socio-economic status, race and culture.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the qualitative study is to explore the special education referral processes, linking the underpinnings of social factors and cultural relationships within the education community when addressing the placement of students into the high incidence category. Many proponents of the current processes believe there is still a need for reliable and valid screening and assessment of the special education referral, evaluation, and placement process, and a need for more teacher training on meeting the needs culturally (Beratan, 2008). A Multi-perspectival analysis of the special education processes may explain the current disproportionality in high incidence special education populations.

Research Questions

The students of the minority communities are continuously over-represented in many of the schools across the entire nation. The proposed research questions will address key factors from a multicultural perspective of phenomena such as, belief systems of students; parents and teachers of the high incidence students, producing a clear depiction of phenomena. In addition, current referral systems and best practices are also analyzed to determine its effects on population, climate and culture. There have been other discrepancies observed in society, but the focal point of this research will address key factors from a multicultural perspective.

Q1. What factors play into the classification and placement of high incidence disabilities?

Q2. How do minority parents/students view themselves within the special education climate and culture?

Q3. To what extent do IDEA regulated best practices consider belief systems and cultural backgrounds in the referral and placement process of high incidence students?

Definition of Terms

Disproportionality. This term refers to the concept of various groups being misrepresented in particular categories in comparison to other groups. Thorsen et al. (2011) defines disproportionality as the "over or underrepresentation" of a group within a given context. This empirical analysis focuses specifically on overrepresentation, which is essentially how a particular group is reflected… [END OF PREVIEW]

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