Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 118–127 | Cite as

Minority Representation in Special Education: 5-Year Trends

  • Dalun Zhang
  • Antonis Katsiyannis
  • Song Ju
  • Eric Roberts
Original Paper


The disproportionate representation of minority students in special education has been a concern for decades. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates states to have policies and procedures in place to prevent inappropriate over identification or disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of students with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the current status of minority representation in special education given the mandate and related efforts to reduce overrepresentation and to identify trends for the 5-year period from 2004 to 2008. Growth models were used to analyze trends in national data collected from the 50 states and the District of Columbia for these 5 years. Findings indicate some improvements from 10 years ago, especially noteworthy are a significant decrease in the number of African American students and a moderate decrease in the number of Hispanic students categorized as having intellectual disabilities. However, during the same period, the number of Hispanic students in learning disabilities increased. Otherwise, the trend of racial/ethnic representation in special education remains the same as it was a decade ago.


Minority representation Overrepresentation of minority student Disproportional representation Special education Disparity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dalun Zhang
    • 2
  • Antonis Katsiyannis
    • 1
  • Song Ju
    • 2
  • Eric Roberts
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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