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The Challenges of
“O’s and U’s”
Over-representation and Under-representation
Presented by Debbie Morrison
Educational Consultant
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Roll Call
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People First Language
“People First Language puts the person before the disability and describes
what a person has, not who a person is.”
Kathie Snow. (n.d.) A few words about People First Language. Disability is Natural. Retrieved
August 1, 2012 from
What is it??????
Disproportionality is
the over or
in special and gifted
education of a given
population group
often defined by
racial and ethnic
What is Disproportionality?
% of students of a specific ethnicity or race
In special education
In school’s population
What is Disproportionality?
% of students of a specific ethnicity or race
In special education
In school’s population
Let’s Take a Poll
Does your school district have a
disproportionality issue that you are
currently addressing or that needs
to be addressed?
 Yes
 No
 Unsure
IDEA 2004 takes a stand against significant
disproportionality of students in particular racial
or ethnic groups in special education.
The BIG Question………….
“Disproportionality is not
a special education
problem alone”
Its problems and symptoms cannot be
removed from the general education,
gifted education, higher education and
society in general, (Artiles, A.,1998)
Some Hypotheses
 Failure of general education to educate children
from diverse backgrounds
 Misidentification, misuse of tests
 Lack of access to effective
 Insufficient resources
 Teachers who are less
well prepared
 Poverty
“There is no achievement gap at birth.
African American children do not
come into this world at a deficit”
Lisa Despit
University of Iowa Study Using the
Bayley Scale of Infant Development
QUESTION to ponder…………
 What happens when we assume that certain
children are less brilliant…..or have learning
 Use your chat pod to share your thoughts
with everyone at this time
African Americans are part of a
“Culture of Poverty”
 “Poverty and other socioeconomic factors affect the
incidence of disability among ethnic groups and
across all disabilities.”
He suggests
that blaming
poverty works
for our school
because you
don’t have to
change lesson
Jawanza Kunjufu
Today’s Classrooms
One Solution….Good Teaching!!
 Research Study by William Sanders and J.C.
Rivers on the effect of good teachers (1996)
Results—Students with the stronger teachers scored 50 percentile points
above those with the weaker teachers!! POWER OF GOOD TEACHING!!!
Cultural Bias
 “Some critics of Special Education attribute
overrepresentation to cultural bias in referral, testing,
eligibility, and placement procedures.” (Meyer,G &Patton,J2001)
 “Society’s deeply ingrained bias of equating
blackness with inferiority.” (L. Despit,2012)
 ….I advance it therefore…that the blacks, whether
originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and
circumstances, are inferior to whites in the
endowments both of body and mind.” (Thomas Jefferson,
Author of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President of the United
Hurricane Katrina
 Caption #1
 Caption #2
 “A young(Black)
 “Two (White)
man walks through
chest deep flood
waters after looting
a grocery store in
New Orleans on
residents wade
through chest-deep
water after finding
bread and soda
from a local grocery
store in New
Orleans, Louisiana.”
Source- Lisa Delpit, 2012
Test Yourself for Hidden Bias!!!!!
 Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia
and the University of Washington created "Project
Implicit" to develop Hidden Bias Tests — called
Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, in the academic
world — to measure unconscious bias.
 In this study, there will be three questionnaires and a sorting
task involving words and pictures. This sorting task will measure
associations between Asian, Hispanic, Black and White people.
The study will take around twelve minutes. At the end, you will
be given feedback on your performance and information
regarding the purpose of the study
Let’s Take a Poll
Has your district ever given a survey to
teachers/staff to identify any unconscious biases?
 Yes
 No
 Unsure
Disproportionality and Discipline
 Harvard University Civil Rights Project, 2008
“African American students with a disability
are more than 3x’s as likely as White students
with a disaability to be suspended and 2.5x
more likely to be removed for more than 10
 Examine your discipline data CLOSELY!!
 Research indicates a very dismal picture
regarding African American MALES.
The Journey of O’s and U’s
in Rapides Parish
Creating an Awareness about the Issue of
Disproportionality in Rapides Parish
Coming together at the table!!!!
General Education Representation
Special Education Representation
Child Welfare and Attendance
Title I Director
Principals, Teachers
Director of Probation and Parole
Judge-9th Judicial Juvenile Court
Black Ministerial Alliance
Office of Mental Health
La SIG Representation
Families Helping Families
Other Agency Representation
Disproportionality Plan of Rapides Parish
 Increase professional
 Support and expand the
development activities
on disproportionality
and cultural responsive
 Continue professional
development activities
with PAS and SBLC
committees on prereferral/referral
District’s Early
Childhood Intervention
 Reinforce and further
actualize RTI and UDL
initiatives in Rapides
Parish Schools
 Fair, non-discriminatory
classifications for
special education that
ensure LRE and
support inclusive
Disproportionality Plan of Rapides Parish
 Address related
 Expand the District’s
behavioral correlates of
through the use of PBS
 Increase reading skills
in targeted schools
through the use of DI
 Expand and improve
existing collaborative
family support and
family involvement
Gifted and Talented
Program from early
elementary to high
 Continue on-going
development of
relationships with
religious leaders
Simple Solutions………
 Create a Sense of
 Use Curricular
Content that is
Summary……..(Lisa Delpit, 2012)
 “African American students are gifted and brilliant.
They do not have a culture of poverty but a culture of
richness that can be brought into classrooms to
facilitate learning. African American students can
learn when they are taught. They must be helped to
overcome the negative stereotypes about them
selves and their communities that permeate our
culture. We can and must build curricula that connect
our students’ interest, thereby allowing them to
connect the known to the unknowns. We cannot
allow an expectation gap result in an achievement
gap. Multiplication is for everyone!”
Other Resources
 NICHEY-National Dissemination Center for
Children with Disabilities—Disproportionality and
 “How To” Guides
Educational Leadership: The Myth of the Culture of
The Research Room: Critical Multicultural Pavilion
The contents of this PowerPoint presentation were developed under a grant from the US Department of
Education, #H323A110003. However those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US
Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
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