Are Schools in the U.S. South Using Special Education to Segregate Students by Race?

Paul L. Morgan, Adrienne D. Woods, Yangyang Wang, Marianne M. Hillemeier, George Farkas, Cynthia Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Whether students of color are more or less likely to be identified as having disabilities than similarly situated students who are White in U.S. states with histories of de jure and de facto racial segregation is currently unknown. Unadjusted analyses of large samples of students attending elementary and middle schools in the U.S. South yielded little evidence of minority overrepresentation in special education. In analyses adjusted for strong confounds (e.g., family income, student-level achievement), students of color were less likely than White students to be identified as having disabilities. Underidentification was evident (a) for the U.S. South in aggregate, (b) across 11 Southern states that we separately examined, (c) in cross-sectional samples assessed in 2003 and 2015, and (d) for specific disability conditions. Black and Hispanic students attending schools in the U.S. South have been and continue to be less likely to be identified as having disabilities than otherwise similar White students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-275
Number of pages21
JournalExceptional Children
Volume86
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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