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Special Education   >   Technical Assistance   >   Disproportionality

Technical Assistance
Disproportionality

The term disproportionate means unequal or out of proportion. Although there are discrepancies in many areas, disproportionality in special education is generally referring to racial and ethnic discrepancies that exist in the identification, placement, and discipline of special education students.

IDEA 2004 includes language on Significant Disproportionality (34 CFR 300.646). This term refers to significantly discrepant data, by race and ethnicity, in any of the following areas – identification, placement, or discipline. Once a district receives a determination of significantly disproportionate, it is required to use 15% of Part B funds for Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) for those children, particularly, but not exclusively, in those groups that were significantly over-identified.

IDEA 2004 also includes disproportionate representation that is the result of inappropriate identification as one of three monitoring priorities for all states.

Technical assistance resources on this page include research, articles, tools, templates, technical assistance centers, and websites. An overview (PPT) of the three State Performance Plan indicators related to identification and discipline is also provided. For an overview of placement, visit the Placement/LRE technical assistance page.
(Note: Use of the resources included on this site does not guarantee that the district’s performance or determination status under section 616(d), will improve for the next reporting period.)

Suspension & Expulsion (Indicator 4)

  • OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports Web site – Established by the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices.
  • Preventing Disproportionality by Strengthening District Policies and Procedures: an Assessment and Strategic Planning Process (National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems, 2006, PDF) – Assessment tool that is used by OSPI’s program review team when conducting Systems Analysis visits.
  • Response to Intervention (OSPI Web site) – RTI is grounded on the core principles of effective teaching, research-based instruction, access to a standards-based curriculum and the belief that all students can learn and achieve high standards when provided these.
  • The National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems Web site – NCCRESt is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs to provide technical assistance and professional development to close the achievement gap between students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their peers, and reduce inappropriate referrals to special education.
  • The Equity Project Web site (Indiana University) – Provides evidence-based information specific to issues of school discipline, school violence, special education and equality of educational opportunity for all students. In addition, the project provides support and technical assistance to educational agencies seeking to create equitable school systems.
  • The IRIS Center Web site – Online interactive resources that translate research about the education of students with disabilities into practice. Materials cover a wide variety of evidence-based topics, including behavior, RTI, learning strategies, and progress monitoring.

Disproportionality in Special Education (Indicator 9 & Indicator 10)

  • OSPI’s Disproportionality Self-study – tools and templates – Includes a self-assessment guide that provides a framework for evaluating (a) knowledge, (b) skills, and (c) dispositions across five domains relevant to addressing the needs of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds: School Governance, Family Involvement, Curriculum, Organization of Learning, and Special Education Referral Process and Programs.
  • Federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Memorandum (OSEP 4/07, PDF) – This memorandum describes the changes in Part B that require a more extensive examination of disproportionality and more extensive remedies where findings of non-compliance occur.
  • Federal Coordinated Early Intervening Services: Frequently Asked Questions (OSEP Memorandum 08-09, PDF) – This memorandum includes information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the use of Part B funds to provide coordinated, early intervening services (CEIS).
  • Preventing Disproportionality by Strengthening District Policies and Procedures: an Assessment and Strategic Planning Process (National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems, 2006, PDF) – Assessment tool that is used by OSPI’s program review team when conducting Systems Analysis visits.
  • Methods for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality in Special Education: A Technical Assistance Guide (Westat, PDF) – This technical assistance guide focuses on two of the more common methods: composition and risk. It also discusses the risk ratio as a means for comparing risk and summarizes how to apply each of these methods to state- and district-level data when assessing racial/ethnic disproportionality.
  • National Indian Education Study (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007, PDF) – This report presents results from a national survey, conducted in 2005, that examined the educational experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in grades 4 and 8, with particular emphasis on the integration of native language and culture into school and classroom activities.
  • Culturally Competent Schools: Guidelines for Secondary School Principals (National Association of School Psychologists, 3/06, PDF) – The first article in a three-part series on culturally competent schools that examines how principals can put in place policies and practices that honor the diverse cultures alive in a school; references In A More Perfect Union: Building an Education System that Embraces All Children endorsed by the National Association of State Boards of Education (2002).
  • Instructional Decision-Making Procedures for Ensuring Appropriate Instruction for Struggling Students (University of Texas, 2004, PDF) – This booklet provides campus-based administrators and educators with procedures for ensuring appropriate instruction for students struggling with reading, mathematics, and behavior, and for students who are English language learners (ELL). Procedures can also be used by educators and school teams to identify effective instructional practices and interventions to reduce referrals to special education.
  • The National Center for Culturally Responsive Education Systems Web site – NCCRESt is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs to provide technical assistance and professional development to close the achievement gap between students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their peers, and reduce inappropriate referrals to special education.
  • The Equity Project Web site (Indiana University) – Provides evidence-based information specific to issues of school discipline, school violence, special education, and equality of educational opportunity for all students. In addition, the project provides support and technical assistance to educational agencies seeking to create equitable school systems.
  • The IRIS Center Web site – Online interactive resources that translate research about the education of students with disabilities into practice. Materials cover a wide variety of evidence-based topics, including behavior, RTI, learning strategies, and progress monitoring.
  • Equity Alliance Web site – Timed to support the U.S. Department of Education's Blueprint for Change, the Equity Alliance at ASU has created an online, searchable library of resources for improving school practices. Resources include a comprehensive Learning Carousel with brief overviews of topics in education, rubrics for assessing district or school practices, presentations, practitioner-oriented guides for improving practice, federal reports, and professional learning modules.

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