Overrepresentation of African Americans and Hispanics in Special Education Research Proposal

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Overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics in special education

Abridged Literature review

The paper that follows will look at the topical issue of overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics in Special education. This study will seek to investigate the reason as to why this case is so and seek to propose ways as to remedy the situation.

Many researchers have conducted research in this subject area with an aim of unearthing the causes for disparity in the referral of African-American and Hispanics to special education programs. Different reasons have been cited for this disparity. The law is clear on this issue; all students must be afforded quality education. The law further proposes that disabled students should be exposed to the same learning environment that normal students are exposed to, and segregation should only be taken as the last option (Powers, 2004). The paper that follows will look at the issue of overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics in special education.

Abridged Literature review

In a bid to provide insight into the overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics in special education, this literature review will look at a number of topics that include: (1) historical outlook of special education in the United States: (2) the procedure followed in special education placement and its significance: (3) a look at theories that explain the disparities achievements among these minority groups: (4) the impact that teachers' perception has on the placement and subsequent achievements of African-Americans and Hispanics in special education.

Historical outlook of special education in the United States

The congress first enacted a law (Public Law 94-142), which sought to safeguard the rights of all handicapped children to obtain education. The Act guaranteed free and appropriate public education to all children living with disability both in the local and federal government. This law has been enacted by an amendment that was effected in 1997. Presently the law is in operation as (IDEA); Individuals with Disability Education Act and forms the foundation upon which the rights of disabled persons, regardless of gender, age or color, are found (Losen, 2007).

According to the United States Department of Education's 23rd Annual report to the Congress, 2001, the IDEA implementation shows that African-Americans and Hispanics across all the disability categories bearing significant disproportionality across all categories of Emotional Disturbances (ED) and Mental Retardation (MR)( Madrigal, 2011). The literary work by Arnold and Marie, published in 2003 presents the marked disparity inherent in special education placements in the United States. This article shows how there has been an overrepresentation of the African-American and Hispanic students in all categories of disability. Additionally, Guiberson 2009 exposes the disparity that has existed for over three decades in the placement of the minority groups in special education. Guiberson's study delves deep to look at the manner in which Hispanic students have been represented in the special education placements. His study presents a well researched work on the pattern and implication of disproportionate placement or representation of minority students in special education. In support of the work by the two previous authors Anderson and Stewart 2007 affirms that in deed the minority students were overrepresented in the various classes for Emotional Disturbance (ED) and Mental Retardation (MR), whereas Asian students were underrepresented in the disability category. The Presidential proclamation on special education through an Executive Order on Excellence in Special Education expressly protects the rights of all citizens regardless of their status in life. The IDEA is a landmark statute that ensures that all children living with disability are afforded education with high quality.

African-Americans and Hispanics Males in Special Education

Another dimension of overrepresentation of the minority groups is investigated by Mills 2003, who looks at the gender bias leveled against minority males. Mills holds that in relation to enrolment of minorities in special education, the students of the male gender stand a high chance of being enrolled compared to female students. According to Mills, males stand a higher chance being enrolled in special programs and more so in categories of students with learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, emotional disturbances and behavioral disorders. This assertion is further supported by Roberson 2011 who admits that the minority students and particularly African-American males are overrepresented in special education. Mills looks at the role of social workers in remedying this situation.

An objective look at the literature in the issue of overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanic males in special education further reveals that the referral system is culpable for the disproportionality that exists in the special education placements. Literature deduced from the work of Gotlieb and Polirstok (2005) reveals the roles played by social workers in the referral of minority males to the special education programs.

The Process of Special Education Referrals

Existing research brings to the fore the importance of referral systems for special education. Various theoretical frameworks exist to primarily expose the flawed nature of the existing referral systems. To that effect three theories will be summarized in this section. The theories include: (1) the conformity bias: (2) the differing views held by parents and teachers on the importance of special education referral system: (3) and the cultural differences.

According to Levinson 2005, conformity bias plays a major role in determining whether a student will be referred for placement in special education or not. Levinson defines conformity bias as the likelihood of the evaluator to solely rely on the hypothesis presented by the teachers or social workers without looking at any supporting evidence for the recommendations made by the referees. Conformity bias increases the possibility that a minority student would find himself unfairly placed under special education.

An alternative perspective on the importance of the referral system is the differing views held by parents and teachers on the importance of special education referral system. Brandon and Brown (2009) shine the light on the discrepancies that exists between parents and teachers. The duo conducted a case study that applied individual meaning and interpretive reasoning that informed the special education services. The focus of this study was to expose the marked disparities that subsist between parents and school officials. Whereas the school administrators viewed the referral of students for placement in special education as a finalized step, parents on the other hand insisted on the need for testing before committing their children to the special education program (De Valenzuela et al., 2006). This discrepancy is very significant as the present process for placement in special education program considers parental placement as a key requirement.

A third viewpoint is attempts at connecting cultural differences to the overrepresentation of minorities in their referral to special education. The cultural differences can be unearthed by contrasting the dissimilarities of racial identification, ethnic background and class differences. The researches of Waitoller, Artiles, and Cheney (2009) consider the ability of cultural differences to cause biased diagnosis subsequently leading to the unfair placement of the African-Americans and Hispanics in special education programs. These group of researchers compared the frequency at which students from minority groups are involved in special education groupings and compared this to that of the Caucasian students. The research further revealed that teachers habitually segregate students from minority groups leaving the Caucasian students tpo learn with their non-disabled counterparts (Rueda and Windmueller, 2006).

Programs to Reduce Special Education referrals

Having seen from literature that the existing referral system is flawed, this section will then move ahead to propose some remedial measures, which can be employed to reduce special education referrals. Tonika (2005) addresses the importance of giving intervention a chance. According to Tonika, the flawed process of student referral to special education can be substituted by early intervention, which looks at a process that will eliminate the need for placement. A social worker can use intervention to address behavioral concerns expressed by the students with a hope to correct it. If successful the social worker will have effectively eliminated the need for placement of this child in a special education program.

Problem Statement

For as long as the education system has been in existence, African-American and Hispanic students have always been on the receiving end of the unfair placement in special education programs. The overrepresentation of African-Americans and Hispanics in special education is a matter of concern particularly because the vast majority of the minority children placed in the special education program. This unfair placement of minority students in these programs has lead to the crowding of special education classes with students from the minority groups.

Purpose Statement

The purpose for conducting this case study is to get an understanding of the perceptions held by teachers as regards the overrepresentation of African-American and Hispanic students in special education programs. The study will focus on pin pointing the perception of teachers to the influence that racial considerations have on the identification of deprived students, the case study will be conducted in two NJ towns; one rural and one rural. The sample will comprise 20 students, 4 teachers, 2 administrators and 4 parents. Independent teacher reporting will play a pivotal role in validating the beliefs… [END OF PREVIEW]

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