Awareness of Special Education Over-identification

Our work here suggests a good part of the U. S. problem of special education over-identification of at risk and non-disabled minority children (disproportionality) is a lack of everyday awareness among school personnel.  Where schools make a good-faith effort to dig into the problem objectivity and skill develop.

Main road in Lakeside, Arizona, in the White Mountains

Main road in Lakeside, Arizona, in the White Mountains

For example, Nicole Ely reports on an interesting finding in the San Rafael City Schools schools (California) on the identification of “emotionally disturbed” children.

The state found a disproportional number of white students classified as emotionally disturbed. “Because of the disparity, the district will have to review its policies and procedures and will be required to reserve 15 percent, or $100,000, of their special education funds for coordinated intervening services to prevent over identification of students.”

The district had worked hard to minimize over-placement of minority children but this finding was a true surprise.  “Our staff does a really good job with the assessment,” [Miss Amy] Baer said. “[Because of the amount of students already identified by other districts] it’s difficult for the high school district to fix this.”

The article identifies one reason for over-identification when one district sends a pupil to another with a legally binding IEP.  Still the new school staff needs to check these transfers to see if the assessments are valid.

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