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[...] others assert that if bias or inappropriate practices are present at any stage in the general or special education processes that lead to labeling and placement, disproportionality must be considered problematic (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982; Klingner et al., 2005). [...] to many, special education represents a "double-edged sword" because it ensures access for children who were traditionally excluded from public education but simultaneously serves to marginalize students from the general education environment.
Th e N e w s pa p e r o f t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f S c h o o l P s y c h o l o g i s t s Communiqué September 2009 Volume 38, Number 1 Multicultural Affairs Research-Based Practice CONFRONTING INEQUITY IN SPECIAL EDUCATION, PART I: Understanding the Problem of Disproportionality B Y A M A N DA L . S U L L I VA N , E L I Z A B E T H A’ VA N T, J O H N B A K E R , DA P H N E C H A N - D L E R , S COT T G R AV E S , E D WA R D M C K I N N E Y, & T R E M A I N E S AY L E S This article is one in a series developed by NASP’s African American Subcommittee for school psychologists and other educa- tors working with culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. In this article, part one of two addressing dispro- portionality, the subcommittee presents an overview of the problem of disproportionate representation of Black students in special education. In next month’s edition, part two will provide school psychologists with promising practices in addressing disproportionality and supporting equity in schools. The authors acknowledge the support of the African American Subcom- mittee, under NASP’s Multicultural Affairs Committee, for their insightful discussions on the article topic, as well as for the group’s professional allegiance. ne of the most persistent and controver- to describe these groups, as they fail to capture O sial issues in education is the overrepre- sentation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students identiﬁed as disabled in the vast diversity both within and between groups (e.g., see Chandler, A’Vant, & Graves, 2008). Even before special education was formally schools. The term “culturally and linguistically di- codified in the Education for All Handicapped verse” is used to refer to students from racial/eth- Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-142, now the Indi- nic minority groups and linguistic minority groups. viduals with Disabilities Education Improvement Throughout this paper, we compare CLD students Act), students of color, as well as those from immi- FENG YU/ISTOCKPHOTO to their mainstream White peers, while acknowl- grant or economically disadvantaged households, edging the inherent limitations of any term used were overrepresented in [ continued on page 14 ] Implementing RTI school psychologists with whom we work are eager to adopt an RTI model because it is seen as School Psychologists Response to a faster way to get students help. However, those same school psychologists are also frustrated by as Instructional and Intervention and the lack of consensus about how to best use RTI models to determine student eligibility in the cat- Behavioral Coaches: Eligibility Deci- egory of speciﬁc learning disability (SLD). The very important question of “What are the speciﬁc A Natural Fit sions: We Need to requirements to classify a child as SLD?” seems to remain fuzzy in practice and mostly absent from B Y G R E G S . E R N , K AT H RY N H E A D, & SIMS ANDERSON Wait to Succeed the research literature. It is interesting to note that the federal pro- ver the years, the roles and functions of school psycholo- B Y M AT T H E W B U R N S & T. C H R I S R I L E Y-T I L L M A N vision for RTI exists in the eligibility criteria for SLD, but the focus in policy and research tends to deemphasize eligibility decision making in O gists have expanded, especially with the advent of response to intervention (RTI). Increased emphasis has been placed on consultation, collaboration with other professionals, interven- chool psychologists in this country are fed favor of concentrating on RTI as a method to tion assistance, and coaching. The types of assessment methods that S up. We are both fortunate enough to con- sult with school districts all over the coun- try about implementing response to interven- enhance student learning (Batche et al., 2005; Burns & VanDerHeyden, 2006; Tilly 2008). Un- fortunately, both aspects of an RTI model are school psychologists utilize on a routine basis have broadened to in- clude universal screening measures and other sensitive measures for monitoring student progress and assisting in the design of classroom tion (RTI), and w
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