9. Special Education Overidentification 2011: Hispanics

The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials has published a paper with the title, “Limited English Proficient Students and Special Education” which addresses special education misidentification.  Hispanic school children are among the children misidentified: 

“Specialists assume that approximately the same proportion of students with disabilities will be found in any population.[3] Based upon this assumption, statistically, about 12% of the language minority population in the United States should require special education.[4] But generally, language minorities are over-represented in programs for the learning disabled.[5] For instance, in California, where students with limited English proficiency make up 22.2% of the student population[6] , LEP students (also known as English language learners or ELL students) are significantly over-represented in special education, particularly in specific learning disabilities and speech impairment classes.[7]

There are countless other groups of non-English speaking school children who need to learn basic language skills.  They are placed in special education for remediation when locals schools do not have adequate second-language programs for them.

Limited English Proficient Students and Special Education   

Britton Loftin, writing for Politics365 (“African Americans Falsely Tagged Special Ed in Houston,” http://politic365.com/April 2011), reports on patterns of disproportionality in Houston, Texas.  Superintendent Terry Grier has directed attention to the problem: “An audit done by a Boston firm, along with research conducted by Grier’s administration, made statistical comparisons to other school districts.   The report done by Thomas Hehir and Associates of Boston studied HISD in the fall of 2010….”  The study found Hispanic pupils with English language needs were categorized as special education pupils.   “He believes that too many Hispanic students are not being helped with the English language at the elementary level, such that when they reach the middle and high school levels the school is unable to work with them and, consequently, moves them to special education.”

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