NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED543517
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
The Over-Representation and Under-Representation of Minority Students in Special Education and Gifted and Talented Programs. Information Brief
Mid-Atlantic Equity Center
The disproportional representation of culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse and low-income students in special education and gifted and talented programs has been a persistent issue for many decades. It has been a long standing trend that the percentage of minority students constituting special education programs exceeds their percentage make up of the total enrollment. Among the many factors contributing to the misidentification of minority students for special education, students labeled with disabilities often 1) have inadequate classroom instruction prior to referral to special education; 2) are subject to inconsistent or arbitrary placement policies and processes; and 3) if living in low income communities, are placed in special education simply due to the lack of effective schooling options (Harry & Klingner, 2007, 2006). Furthermore, the over-identification of low-income and minority students for remedial and special education classes and the underrepresentation of diverse students in gifted and talented programs is reinforced by cross-cultural misunderstanding, assessment bias, and teacher referral processes (Harry& Klingner, 2007, 2006; Ford, et al., 2004; Skiba, et al., 2008). In order to address these issues, educators and policymakers need to consider how to change the identification and placement procedures for special education and gifted programs, and how to improve services that address the academic needs and achievement of these historically neglected populations. A growing body of research has identified approaches to assessment, cross-cultural curriculum and program implementation, as well as interventions and structural changes to schooling that can improve proportionality when implemented in a culturally responsive manner (Briggs, et al., 2008; Joseph & Ford, 2006). To obviate the need for special education placement, schools need to identify children in need of additional help earlier and improve general education services, in conjunction with measures that improve teacher preparation and address the multiplicity of biological and social factors contributing to disproportionality (Donovan & Cross, 2002).
Mid-Atlantic Equity Center. George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education 1555 Wilson Boulevard Suite 515, Arlington, VA 22209. Tel: 800.925.3223; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Department of Education (ED)
Authoring Institution: Mid-Atlantic Equity Center