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An Investigation of the Representation of Middle School English Language Learners (ELLs) in Special Education Programs in a Large Urban School District

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Date Issued:
2011
Abstract/Description:
The disproportionate representation of ethnically and racially diverse students in special education has been an enduring problem in education for the past four decades. However, most of the research on disproportionality has focused on the ethnic/racial variable; the body of research focusing on the linguistic variable is still slim in comparison. As linguistic diversity in the United States continues to rise, teachers will continue to be challenged to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in their classrooms. However, many teachers feel unprepared to deal with this diversity and have difficulty discriminating whether a student's poor performance is due to linguistic or cognitive factors. Consequently, many English Language Learners are misidentified and misplaced in special education programs. The purpose of this study was to analyze the representation of English Language Learners in special education high incidence disability categories in a large, urban school district in Florida. Cross-tabulations and chi-square statistics were used to analyze the distribution of special education students by ethnicity/race, home language, ESOL status, and English proficiency level; risk ratio and relative risk ratio statistics were used to determine whether the district's English Language Learners showed under, equal, or over-representation in special education high incidence disability categories. The results indicated that English Language Learners were at the greatest risk for being identified as Specific Learning Disabled when compared to the other disability categories, and English Language Learners with intermediate English proficiency levels were at a higher risk for being identified and placed in special education high incidence disability categories when compared to beginning and advanced level English Language Learners.
Title: An Investigation of the Representation of Middle School English Language Learners (ELLs) in Special Education Programs in a Large Urban School District.
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Name(s): Lerma, Leah, Author
Stewart, Martha, Committee Chair
Biraimah, Karen, Committee Member
Nutta, Joyce, Committee Member
Purmensky, Kerry, Committee Member
University of Central Florida, Degree Grantor
Type of Resource: text
Date Issued: 2011
Publisher: University of Central Florida
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The disproportionate representation of ethnically and racially diverse students in special education has been an enduring problem in education for the past four decades. However, most of the research on disproportionality has focused on the ethnic/racial variable; the body of research focusing on the linguistic variable is still slim in comparison. As linguistic diversity in the United States continues to rise, teachers will continue to be challenged to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in their classrooms. However, many teachers feel unprepared to deal with this diversity and have difficulty discriminating whether a student's poor performance is due to linguistic or cognitive factors. Consequently, many English Language Learners are misidentified and misplaced in special education programs. The purpose of this study was to analyze the representation of English Language Learners in special education high incidence disability categories in a large, urban school district in Florida. Cross-tabulations and chi-square statistics were used to analyze the distribution of special education students by ethnicity/race, home language, ESOL status, and English proficiency level; risk ratio and relative risk ratio statistics were used to determine whether the district's English Language Learners showed under, equal, or over-representation in special education high incidence disability categories. The results indicated that English Language Learners were at the greatest risk for being identified as Specific Learning Disabled when compared to the other disability categories, and English Language Learners with intermediate English proficiency levels were at a higher risk for being identified and placed in special education high incidence disability categories when compared to beginning and advanced level English Language Learners.
Identifier: CFE0004127 (IID), ucf:49121 (fedora)
Note(s): 2011-12-01
Ed.D.
Education, Dean's Office EDUC
Doctoral
This record was generated from author submitted information.
Subject(s): English Language Learners -- ELLs -- special education -- learning disabilities -- disproportionality -- over-representation -- urban school district
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/ucf/fd/CFE0004127
Restrictions on Access: campus 2012-12-15
Host Institution: UCF

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