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Who Receives and Benefits from Special Education in the U.S.? Analyses of Three Nationally Representative Datasets

IES  R324A200166
Administered in: College of Education

Abstract:

This Exploration grant will analyze secondary data from three nationally representative databases to examine significant disproportionality in special education, including to what extent disproportionality may be resulting from systemic bias in disability identification. A lack of scientific consensus has emerged regarding racial and ethnic disparities in disability identification. Until recently, over-representation was widely believed to result from U.S. schools inappropriately over-identifying students as having disabilities based on their race or ethnicity. Yet new empirical work repeatedly finds that students who are racial, ethnic, or language minorities are less likely to be identified as having disabilities than observationally similar White or English-speaking students, suggesting inequities in special education resource allocation in the U.S. To advance the current knowledge base, the research team will examine whether and to what extent (a) disparities in disability identification have changed over time in the U.S. including for disabilities generally and for specific conditions, (b) school-, district-, and state-level characteristics relate to these disparities, and (c) receipt of special education services is associated with or predictive of increased academic achievement, behavior, and socio-emotional functioning by students with disabilities including those who are minorities.