Disproportionate, overrepresentation, hispanic, florida, educational environment, ese, high incidence categories


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was first passed in 1975 and requires states to have policies in place to prevent misidentification and overrepresentation, and to monitor disproportionate representation by race/ethnicity and disability category. The fundamental premise of this legislation is to ensure that students with disabilities are afforded a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Even with the passage of IDEA, the disproportionate representation of minority students continues to be a national issue. The disproportionate placement of minority students in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) began to receive attention prior to IDEA and has been well documented by researchers ever since. Hispanic disproportionality has received less attention in professional literature and has shown to vary depending upon the level of data being analyzed. Early studies analyzing national level data indicate that Hispanic students tend to be underrepresented in many ESE categories, while studies disaggregating state and district level data found that Hispanic students are overrepresented in the high incidence categories. The goals of this study were to determine (a) if a disproportionate representation of Hispanic students existed in the three high incidence categories of Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (EBD), Specific Learning Disabled (SLD), and Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and (b) if Hispanic students already identified for Exceptional Student Education services were disproportionately represented, compared to all other students, in more restrictive educational placements in each of the 67 counties in the state of Florida. Three separate measures were iii employed to make this determination: the composition index (CI), the risk index (RI), and the risk ratio (RR). An analysis of the data revealed that in several of the school districts Hispanic students were both overrepresented and underrepresented across all high incidence categories. The data also indicated that Hispanic students already identified for ESE services were both overrepresented and underrepresented in several school districts across all educational environments. Also, differences in disproportionality were noted depending upon the measure being utilized for both research questions. Implications for practice and recommendations for further research are presented.


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Graduation Date





Murray, Kenneth


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Educational and Human Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic