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Over Representation of African American Students in the Special Education System. Essay

Introduction My current school has special education roster of 32 students in self contain with over 90% of the students being African-American. This paper will address the large number African-American students in the special education system. Attention will be focus on the social economic roles that play a part in placement. When done properly and in appropriate perspective, special education is beneficial for students with a real disability, but special education services are inappropriate when a student receives it when it is not needed.

African-American students are being placed in the special education system at an alarming rate. They are being labeled with disabilities at ages as early as five years old, because they progress slower than the rest of the class, bias in assessment instrument, discrimination in society reflected in the school or they may present some behavior issue. Special education is appropriate placement for students with real disabilities, but minority blacks are being disproportionately place in special education.

This unjust placement at early ages are causing these children to be stereotyped as slow learners causing low self esteem and low achievement rate during and after school. This is a major problem when addressing special education for African Americans. Many attempts have been made to solve the issues but there have been no satisfactory results. Theoretical Framework The disproportionate representation of African-Americans students in the special education system is well documented.

This misrepresentation has been problematic since the inception of the special education program. This paper will probe the reasons many of these students have been categorized with various type of learning disabilities or emotional disturbances. These labels given to students have proven to be life altering to students given incorrect placement. Lawsuits have been filed charging that placements of high numbers of African American, especially male, in special education classes has been a tool for resisting court ordered desegregation (Harry and Anderson, 1992).

In many instances there is a lack of or unwillingness to properly place African American students because of educators in some systems being culturally diverse. Secondly there is a lot of mistrust between educators and parents. Many parents don’t seek appropriate services or disagree with educational placement because they feel they will be see as ignorant or “talked down” to by teachers and administrators placing their children in special education.

This paper will also discuss the long term effects that hinder students educational progress as well as there adult life. Once placed in many special education programs student may not be in line to receive a high school diploma. Many students have difficulties in the community getting jobs because employers feel they will be slower then there counterparts that received a regular education. This then snowballs into the child being placed in a lower social economic bracket because of the type of employment they will have to settle for in adulthood.

African-American students are disproportionally placed in the special education system around the country. This misrepresentation is may be due to teacher ineffectiveness. Improving teachers’ capacity to provide culturally responsive instruction to African American students is like to improve student learning ability (Darling-Hammond, 2004). New teachers must meet a vigorous undergraduate program to become certified they continue to graduate enable to effectively teach African American students.

Many exit program with a misconception of black students. They think that the African American students are not as smart as other races. The purpose of this study is to prove there is a misrepresentation of African American students in special education. I also plan to illustrate the problem of disproportionate representation of African American students in special education is not just a special education problem issue or concern but, instead, must be viewed in the context as it refers to racism in the whole educational system.

I will discuss how racism contributes to and maintains disproportionality in special education by (a) insufficiently funding schools attended primarily by African American and poor children: (b) employing culturally inappropriate and unresponsive curriculum; (c) inadequately preparing educators to effectively teach African American learners and other students of color.

I will show that to effectively address the problem of disproportionality, researchers, practitioners and policymakers must place inequitable educational resource allocation, inappropriate curriculum and pedagogy and inadequate teacher preparation at the center of education research, policy, and practice. Significance of the Study There is much significance for this study.

Being a special education teacher I have seen many students come to me because they were a behavioral problem during their elementary years. I believe it is our responsibility to find a solution to this growing problem. First, we as educators, we need to find out if this race of students are get misplaced in the educational system.

These students not getting a proper education are causing a negative effect on their entire life. This causes this particular group to have to depend on state aid and weakens the workforce. Secondly, we need to find out if there is a problem with teacher preparedness. If this is a problem we need to figure out what can be done in state colleges and universities to solve these problems. Would adding a more ethically diverse curriculum better prepare teachers to educate African American students?

The majority of the teachers coming out of college will be spending there first few years teaching intercity kids, with the majority being African Americans. Finally we need to educate or children to be reliable productive citizens. I feel that these children are not being given an equal shot at being productive if they are being thrown in the special education class in the back of the building. We already know there is a problem, now we need to work together to find a solution that will best benefit the students.

Definition of Terms Disproportionate numbers: Having greater representation within a subgroup compared to the number of students in the population as a whole. Some researchers use plus or minus 10% to determine proportionality (Harry & Anderson, 1994). Discrimination The ability to make or perceive distinction; discernment.

Partiality, or bias, in the treatment of a person or group, which is unfair, illegal, etc(Loren & Orfield, 2002). It is my opinion that African American children are being placed in special Education because of biases unfair grouping. High Achieving: School-wide trajectory of API (if in California) and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) growth over three years of all subgroups.

There must also be a minimum movement of two deciles within 3-5 years. ] Special Education: Services and supports designed to minimize the impact of disability and maximize opportunity to grow and learn (Hehir, 2007). Limitation, Delimitation and Assumptions Limitations of Study The limitations of this study would be to find willing participates, because of the reasons I have discussed earlier parents will be willing to admit that their child was placed in special education because of a lack of knowledge on their part.

Another limitation that will affect them outcome of this research is because I am directly employed in the parish that I have chosen to do research. This position will limit the effectiveness of my research because of student privacy and my position in the parish. It is also my opinion that school districts will not want to release information that could possible be used against them. As stated before I think students of color or being illegal classified as students with special needs and placed in special education. These are a few factors that could limit my study.

Delimitations of the Study External validity may be effected based on the number of student/parents being interviewed. Validate may be effected due to other minority races not being included in the study. Also the size and school locations may limit my ability to get adequate data to fully prove my hypothesis. The small sample population was feasible for my research rather then venturing out into larger areas. This is significant in that the findings may not be applicable to other schools. Assumptions of the Study References Artiles, A. J. (2003). Special education’s changing identity: Paradoxes and dilemmas in views of culture and space.

Harvard Educational Review, 73, 164-202. Artiles, A. J. , Rueda, R. , Salazar, J. J. , & Higareda, I. (2005). Within-group diversity in minority disproportionate representation: English language learners in urban school districts. Exceptional Children, 71, 283-300. Billingsley, B. (2004). Special education teachers’ retention and attrition: A critical analysis of the research literature. Remedial and Special Education, 25, 22-39. Blair, C. , & Scott, K. G. (2002). Proportion of LD placements associated with low socio-economic status: Evidence for gradient.

Journal of Special Education, 36, 14-22. Blanchett, W. J. , Mumford, V. , & Beachum, F. (2005). Urban school failure and disproportionality in a post-Brown era. Remedial and Special Education, 26, 70-81. Chamberlain, S. P. (2005). Issues of overrepresentation and educational equity for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41, 110-113. Countinho, M. J. , Oswald, D. P. , & Best, A. M. (2002). The influence of sociodemographics and gender on the disproportionate identification of minority students as having learning disabilities.

Remedial and Special Education, 23, 49-59. Coutinho, M. J. , Oswald, D. P. , Best, A. M. , & Forness, S. R. (2002). Gender and sociodemographic factors and the disproportionate identification of culturally and linguistically diverse students with emotional disturbance. Behavioral Disorders, 27, 109-125. Eitle, T. M. (2002). Special education or racial segregation: Understanding variation in the representation of Black students in educable mentally handicapped programs.

The Sociological Quarterly, 43(4), 575-605. Elhoweris, H. , Mutua, K. , Alsheikh, N. , & Holloway, P.(2005). Effect of children’s ethnicity on teachers’ referral and recommendation decisions in gifted and talented programs. Remedial and Special Education, 26(1), 25-31. Ferri, B. A. , & Connor, D. J. (2005). In the shadow of Brown: Special education and overrepresentation of students of color. Remedial and Special Education, 26, 93-100. Hosp, J. L. , & Hosp, M. K. (2002).

Behavior differences between African American and Caucasian students: Issues for assessment and intervention. Education and Treatment of Children, 24, 336-350. Hosp, J. L. , & Reschly, D. J. (2002).

Predictors of restrictiveness of placement of African American and Caucasian students. Exceptional Children, 14, 20-34. Hosp, J. L. , & Reschly, D. J. (2003). Referral rates for intervention and assessment: A meta-analysis of racial differences. Journal of Special Education, 37, 67-81. Hosp, J. L. , & Reschly, D. J. (2004). Disproportionate representation of minority students in special education: Academic, demographic and economic predictors. Exceptional Children, 70, 185-199. Kurlaender, M. , & Yun, J. T. (2007). Measuring school racial composition and student outcomes in a multiracial society.

American Journal of Education, 113, 213-235. Neal, L. V. , McCray, A. D. , Webb-Johnson, G. , & Bridgest, S. T. (2003). The effects of African American movement styles on teachers’ perceptions and reactions. Journal of Special Education, 37, 49-57. O’Connor, C. (2002). Black women beating the odds from one generation to the next: How the changing dynamics of constraint and opportunity affect the process of educational resilience. American Educational Research Journal, 39, 855-903. Park, J. , Turnball, A. P. , & Turnball, H. R. , III (2002).

Impacts of poverty on quality of life in families of children with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 68, 151-170. Shealey, M. W. , Lue, M. S. , Brooks, M. , & McCray, E. (2005). Examining the legacy of Brown: The impact on special education and teacher practice. Remedial and Special Education, 26, 113-121. Skiba, R. J. , Michael, R. S. , Nardo, A. C. , & Peterson, R. L. (2002). The color of discipline: Sources of racial and gender disproportionality in school punishment. Urban Review, 34, 317-342. Skiba, R. J. , Poloni-Staudinger, L. , Gallini, S. , Simmons, A.B. , & Feggins-Azziz, R. (2006).

Disparate access: The disproportionality of African American students with disabilities across educational environments. Exceptional Children, 72, 411-424. Skiba, R. J. , Poloni-Staudinger, L. , Simmons, A. B. , Feggins-Azziz, L. R. , & Chung, C. G. (2005). Unproven links: Can poverty explain ethnic disproportionality in special education? Journal of Special Education, 39, 130-144. Zhang, D. , & Katsiyannis, A. (2002). Minority representation in special education: A persistent challenge. Remedial and Special Education, 21, 180-187.


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