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A Statistical Method for Identifying Racial Overrepresentation in Special Education Placement

Jones, Douglas H.; Bennett, Randy Elliot; Sacks, Jerome
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-83-39, PSRTR-83-42
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Court Litigation, Minority Group Children, Placement, Racial Discrimination, Special Education, Statistical Analysis


The discovery of disproportionate minority enrollments in special education classes has been a subject of considerable concern to federal, state, and local education officials alike for the past decade. Because the existence of disproportions is frequently thought to result from discriminatory placement practices on the part of local school districts, many state agencies are implementing methods for detecting and taking action against offending districts. This paper discusses some of the methodological problems inherent in existing methods for determining disparities in special education placement and offers an alternative to presently-used methods. The alternative offered can be used for the simultaneous comparison of disparity across many districts and several diagnostic categories. (41pp.)

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