English language -- Study and teaching -- Foreign speakers, Learning disabilities -- Florida, Middle schools -- Florida, Special education -- Florida, Urban schools -- Florida
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 learning 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.
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Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic
Lerma, Leah J., "An Investigation Of The Representation Of Middle School English Language Learners (ells) In Special Education Programs In A Large Urban School District" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1755.