Theory of Special Education Over-identification

We have sketched a broad array of issues and factors determining inappropriate special education placement. Full description prior to theory construction is necessary but it is possible to identify preliminary issues.

Factors

Right now, we see FOUR chief factors which taken together predict the likelihood of inappropriate placement.

GENDER: males are more likely to be placed.

TEACHABILITY: difficult-to-teach pupils are more likely to be placed.

DISABILITY: disabled pupils are more likely to be placed.

RACE: minority pupils are more likely to be placed.

Mr. Chang, swan-goose and friend, Lakeside, Arizona

Mr. Chang, swan-goose and friend, Lakeside, Arizona

An easy-to-teach white female non-disabled pupil is less likely to be placed in special education. “Points” pile up against children who display school problems across the board.

Placement Category

Four school categories are involved in incorrect placement:

SPECIAl EDUCATION OVER-IDENTIFICATION
DISPROPORTIONAL OVER-IDENTIFICATION
SCHOOL DETENTION
SCHOOL SUSPENSION

Therefore, over-identification is not a single universe of school decision-making. There is an underlying universe defined empirically by perceived learning status.

Learning Status

A dispreferred pupil is more likely to be placed in segregating programs, including special education. Dispreferred pupils are more likely to drop out of school, have employment problems, develop criminal patterns, or go to prison.

Terminology

The popular label for dispreferred children is “struggling children.” (See our prior posts on the topic.)

Disproportionality is not predicted solely by race and therefore is not an exclusive area of professional knowledge and training. Factors affecting struggling children cross the line between general education and special education.

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