AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

An investigation of the relationships among racial fractionalization, school district resources, and special education identification, practices, and outcomes

by Anne Davy Bowers

Institution: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Year: 2016
Keywords: Racial fractionalization; special education identification practices; disproportionality; wealth; effort
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2135323
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/90571


Despite the manner in which special education services have evolved in the United States, research suggests that special education services disproportionately label and segregate minority students, often rely upon practices that have weak relationships to outcomes, and only increase the achievement gap between students with and without disabilities. As school districts represent increasingly diverse populations, leaders must be prepared to serve all of the students in an equitable manner. By considering the relationships among diversity, resources, and special education practices, school leaders may be better prepared to serve the multiple needs present within their communities in an equitable manner. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among racial fractionalization, school district resources, and special education identification, proportionality, and outcomes in Illinois school districts. The fractionalization index (Alsesina & Glaeser, 2009) provides researchers with one way to quantify diversity and examine the relationship between a population’s heterogeneity and the provision of public resources. This study investigated the relationship between school district diversity, as measured through the fractionalization index, and special education patterns in Illinois school districts, along with district wealth and funding effort. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics in order to explore the study variables in depth as well as consider which variables related to one another. Findings demonstrated that in some aspects of special education identification, placement, and outcomes, there is a relationship with racial fractionalization. The fractionalization index also related to districts’ wealth and resources, and negatively correlated to district effort. The percent of low income students was seen as a predictive variable when considering many of the dependent variables, including special education identification, placement, and outcomes. The findings of this study suggest that the vast variability which is present in the resources and student demographics of Illinois school districts can also be seen in the special education experiences of students with disabilities, including the risk of disability identification, placement in general education, and student outcomes. Advisors/Committee Members: Alexander, Samuel K (advisor), Alexander, Samuel K (Committee Chair), Dunbar, Christopher (committee member), Rounds, James (committee member), Sloat, Linda (committee member).