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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Special Education
A Multi-Year Disproportionality Analysis by State, Analysis Category, and Race/Ethnicity



Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Special Education
A Multi-Year Disproportionality Analysis by State, Analysis Category, and Race/Ethnicity

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Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states must collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality on the basis of race and ethnicity is occurring in the state, or its school districts, with respect to the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities. To ensure compliance with this provision of IDEA, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has proposed rules—for public comment—that would require all states to use a standard methodology to identify significant disproportionality. Under this standard approach, states would analyze racial and ethnic disparities using a risk ratio, and select a reasonable risk ratio threshold to determine when racial and ethnic disparities have become significant. ED published in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking a set of example risk ratio thresholds, based on two median absolute deviations (MADs) above the national median of local educational agencies (LEA) risk ratios.

The purpose of this report is to provide the public with a set of tables showing the number and percentage of school districts that would be identified with significant disproportionality if ED's example risk ratio thresholds were adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The tables detail the number and percent of LEAs in each state with a risk ratio that exceeds two MADs above the national median, with a minimum cell size of 10 students for three consecutive years (2011–12, 2012–13, and 2013–14), within each race/ethnicity and specific category (i.e., identification of students with specific learning disabilities, total number of disciplinary removals, separate settings, etc.). In addition to providing information on the methodology and limitations of the data, this document will also assist the reader in understanding how to read the tables.

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Last Modified: 02/23/2016