Under the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), the U.S. Department of Education placed an increased emphasis on addressing the challenge of disproportionate representation of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in special education. A variety of causes, such as flawed assessment practices or inadequate instruction, may contribute to such disproportionality.
The federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) requires each state education agency (SEA) to determine if disproportionality based on race and ethnicity and resulting from inappropriate identification is occurring in the state and within local school districts. Further, if such disproportionality due to inappropriate identification is found, the SEA must notify the affected school districts and support them in carrying out improvement activities.
Each SEA must fulfill these requirements by implementing activities delineated in its IDEA Part B State Performance Plan (SPP) for Special Education. Indicators 9 and 10 of the SPP address the issue of disproportionality resulting from inappropriate identification for students aged 6 through 21.
Specifically, Indicator 9 addresses the overall disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education, while Indicator 10 addresses the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in specific disability categories, i.e., Speech Language, Specific Learning Disability, Emotional Disability, Intellectual Disability, Autism and Other Health Impairment.
Below is more detailed information, along with tools and resources, on disproportionate representation in special education.
This document provides complete information on disproportionate representation of particular racial/ethnic groups in the identification of students as eligible for special education, as addressed in Indicators 9 and 10 of the SPP. It includes definitions of disproportionality, the method and criteria for determining disproportionate representation and the process to determine inappropriate identification under Indicators 9 and 10 of the SPP. The document also contains information on requirements associated with significant disproportionality of racial/ethnic groups in special education identification, placement, and discipline, and these requirements are separate from those of the SPP.
This document provides details of the weighted and alternate risk ratio methods that ISBE uses to calculate disproportionality.