The impact of the ESSA 1% cap on students of color.

Yesterday, I posted Bev Johns’ article on the ESSA’s 1% cap on testing waivers for students identified as special needs or with disabilities.

“What impact,” I asked Bev, “would this have on students of color? Is there data on whether students of color have been over-identified or under-identified as needing or receiving special education services?”

While there are several studies, the most prominent one is by Paul Morgan from 2015.

The current proposed rule-making on disproportionality (NPRM) put forward by USDOE includes this research (even though the Department continues to claim that overrepresentation is so great that almost 1/2 of school districts must take away 15 percent of current Federal spending on special ed for students ages 6 to 21 to spend it on early intervening – although the Department offers NO proof whatsoever that that would correct the supposed problems), quoted below.

The Department states the following in the NPRM –

(1)  However, research that investigates whether overrepresentation and under-identification of children of color in special education co-occur at the local level is inconclusive.

(2) The Department has included a directed question to specifically request public comment on strategies to prevent the under-identification of children of color in special education.

(3) The rate of identification of children as children with disabilities varies across racial and ethnic groups both nationally and locally.

However, as noted by numerous researchers, various racial and ethnic groups may have differential exposure to a number of other risk factors for disability including, but not limited to, low socioeconomic status, low birth weight, and lack of health insurance.

(Morgan, P.L., et al., 2015.)

Morgan, et al., (2015) compared Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and other children of color to their White peers with respect to identification for one of five impairments (learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and emotional disturbance).

After controlling for a number of covariates, the authors found that children of color were LESS likely than otherwise similar White, English-speaking children to be identified as having disabilities (in some cases, by up to 75 percent).

(emphasis added)

(4) A separate study examined the influence of school- and district-level characteristics – specifically racial and ethnic composition and economic disadvantage – on the likelihood of special education identification for Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino children. (Ramey, 2015.)

The author found that, on average, schools and districts with larger Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino populations had LOWER RATES of Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino children receiving services under IDEA for emotional disturbances or other health impairment.

Further, the author found that, in less disadvantaged districts, there is a NEGATIVE CORRELATION between the percentage of Black/African-American children in a school and receipt of IDEA services.

On average, Black/African-American children in these more affluent school districts were LESS LIKELY to receive IDEA services as the percentage enrollment of Black/African-American children’ increases.

(emphasis added in these paragraphs)

(5) The Department’s review of research found that overrepresentation and under-identification by race and ethnicity are both influenced by factors such as racial isolation and poverty.

(6) While decades of research, Congress, and GAO have found that the overrepresentation of children of color among children with disabilities is a significant problem, some experts and respondents to the June 2014 RFI  have noted that under-identification in special education is a problem for children of color in a number of communities.

These experts and respondents highlight the possibility that policies and practices intended to reduce overrepresentation may exacerbate inequity in special education by reducing access to special education and related services for children of color.

(Morgan, P.L., Farkas, G., Hillemeier, M.M., Mattison, R., Maczuga, S., Li, H. & Cook, M., 2015.) .

Bev added: You can provide input directly to the U.S. Department of Education by making a Comment, and read the Comments made so far,at www.regulations.gov (enter in the Search box: ED-2015-OSERS-0132-0001)

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