Teacher Race and Racial Disparities in Special Education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The U.S. teacher population is predominantly White, yet research has not yet determined how teacher race might matter to the identification of students with disabilities. This study examines the role of teacher racial composition in special education service receipt. Findings show that schools’ proportion of teachers of color, net of all other factors, is associated with students’ increased odds of receiving special education services for all categories of disability, with the exception of emotional disturbance and autism spectrum disorder. These findings may reflect higher expectations of students held by teachers of color, which may lead to greater special education receipt for students who are not performing as well as expected. Although the effects do not vary by student race for most categories of disability, the evidence presented here suggests that increased representation of teachers of color ameliorates some underrepresentation of students of color in special education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-224
Number of pages12
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • diversity
  • school(s)
  • teacher(s)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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