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Justice, Spirituality & Education Journal

Abstract

The disproportionate representation of African Americans in special education continues to be a prevalent, disturbing, and heavily debated problem, and possibly the most long-standing issue in the special education field. African American students are overrepresented in three disability categories (emotionally behavioral disorder, intellectual disability, and specific learning disability), all of which are prone to subjective judgment. The current literature indicates the following reasons as possible explanations for this persistent problem: failed general education system, inequities in special education referral and identification process, test bias, as well as a lack of access to effective instruction. This paper provides definitions of disproportionate representation, an explanation of categories of disability, and explores the use of multi-tiered academic interventions.

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