Standing Out and Sorting In: Exploring the Role of Racial Composition in Racial Disparities in Special Education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Schools differentially sort students into special education by race, though researchers debate the extent to which this is caused by racist school practices versus variation in student need due to other racial inequalities. I test the interaction between school-level racial composition and student-level race as a predictor of special education receipt. I find that as the proportion of White students increases, the risk of lower-status disabilities, such as intellectual disability, increases for Black, Latinx, and Native American students. As the proportion of White students decreases, White students’ risk of higher-status disabilities, such as speech/language impairment, increases relative to students of color. Thus, in the context of racial distinctiveness, student race becomes salient to sorting into special education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2573-2608
Number of pages36
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Volume56
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Keywords

  • disability
  • race
  • racial composition
  • special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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