News

Minority children underrepresented in special education

By Laura Devaney
July 2nd, 2015

UCI-Penn State findings contradict prior research, public perception and federal legislation, policies

special-educationContrary to popular belief, minority children are not overrepresented in special education classrooms and are actually less likely to be diagnosed with and treated for disabilities than white children with similar academic achievements, behaviors and economic resources, according to new research co-authored by George Farkas, professor of education at UC Irvine.

Special education programs have been the target of legal challenges on the grounds of discrimination and racial bias, yet the study found that minority children are underdiagnosed across five disability conditions for which U.S. schoolchildren commonly receive special education services.

“From the beginning of kindergarten to the end of middle school, minority children are less – not more – likely than white students with similar performance and behaviors to be identified as having learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, intellectual disabilities, other health impairments, or behavioral disorders,” Farkas said.

Next page: Additional findings from the study