This study used the 2004 U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Data Collection of a nationally representative sample of districts to investigate the disproportionality of limited English proficient (LEP) students in the categories of learning disabilities (LD), mental retardation (MR), and emotional disturbance (ED). The term "disproportionality" describes circumstances in which a minority group is represented in special education at a greater or lesser rate than non-minority group members (Williams, 2007). The disproportionality of racial and ethnic minorities has been well documented (Donovan & Cross, 2002; Heller et al., 1982; Losen & Orfield, 2002) yet little is known about the disproportionality of linguistic minorities (Klingner & Artiles, 2003).
Relative risk ratios, using non-LEP students as the comparison group, and confidence intervals were constructed for each district to determine if LEP students are disproportionately represented in each of the three disability categories. Planned comparisons were used to determine if significant differences exist in mean relative risk ratios between (a) districts with smaller versus larger LEP student populations and (b) elementary schools and secondary schools.
Findings indicate a distinct difference in LEP student representation between academically and behaviorally based disabilities. Approximately one-third of districts have significant overrepresentation and one-third have significant underrepresentation of LEP students in LD and MR, whereas LEP students are significantly underrepresented in ED in over three-fourths of districts. Planned comparisons indicate (a) districts with 99 or fewer LEP students have significantly higher risk for LEP students being identified for LD than districts with 100 or more LEP students; (b) districts with 100-999 LEP students have significantly higher risk for LEP students being identified for LD and MR than districts with 1,000 or more LEP students; and, (c) secondary schools have significantly greater risk of LEP students being identified for LD, MR, and ED than elementary schools. Recommendations include redesigning teacher preparation programs to incorporate a sustained focus on cultural competence, amending IDEA and NCLB, establishing and supporting a prioritized research agenda, and investigating the efficacy of response to intervention and positive behavior support systems as ways to mitigate LEP student disproportionality.
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|Advisor:||Freund, Maxine B.|
|Commitee:||McCardle, Peggy, Yen, Cherng-Jyh|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Education and Human Development|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Disproportionality, Emotional disturbance, English language learners, High-incidence disability, Learning disabilities, Limited English proficient, Relative risk ratio|
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