The phenomenon of the disproportionate representation of students of color in special education programs has been a concern amongst educational scholars over the last four decades; especially in the category of emotional disturbance. Qualitative research that explores actual districts as well as the programs they implement is needed to assist practitioners within the nation's TK-12 districts. The purpose of this study was to investigate what policies and procedures districts have revised or implemented to reduce referrals for special education placement, as well as compare state required improvement plan documents across participating districts. This study focused on California TK-12 districts that have been identified as significantly disproportionate in one or more disability categories by the California Department of Education. In-depth interviews of directors of special education were used as the research design approach to gain an understanding of the root causes of disproportionality as well as explore policies and procedures to reduce inequitable referrals. The findings were analyzed through the researcher-created conceptual framework of factors that reduce disproportionality. These factors include: access to effective instruction, sufficient resources, culturally responsive schools, equitable referral procedures, proper use of tests, and trained teachers.
Clear themes emerged around the conceptual framework. The findings revealed that inequitable referral and assessment procedures, cultural incompetency, inconsistent pre-referral interventions, and a lack of accountability were contributing factors that led to disproportionality for the participating districts. The study also revealed that ongoing and frequent professional development and inter-district collection of referral, suspension, and intervention data has a positive effect on monitoring disproportionality. Recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners aimed at developing cultural responsive practices that provides support for students of color prior to referrals for special education assessment.
|Commitee:||Booker, Beverly, Hernandez, Jaime|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational evaluation, Special education|
|Keywords:||California, Disproportionality, Emotional disturbance, Minority students, State improvement plans, Students of color|
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