Are Minority Children Overrepresented in Special Education? A Best-Evidence Synthesis of Studies Using Covariate Adjustment
Authors: Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Michael Cook, Natasha M. Strassfeld., Marianne Hillemeier, Wik Hung Pun, Deborah L. Schussler
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: We synthesized empirical work to evaluate whether children were disproportionately over-represented in special education based race or ethnicity. We identified 18 of 87 possible studies (i.e., 21%) that met the review’s a priori inclusion criteria, including use of at least one covariate. The percentage of estimates indicating significant minority over-representation declined markedly as the 18 studies included more of three methodological features. Only 2 of the 115 (1.7%) regression estimates from those studies with the strongest internal and external validity indicated that children were over-represented in special education based on race or ethnicity. The best available empirical evidence instead repeatedly indicated that minority children were less likely than otherwise similar White children to receive special education services.