The Story of Disproportionality as Told by a Collaborative Culturally Responsive Coalition

Cathy A. Thorsen, Aram deKoven, Deborah Pattee, Dwight C. Watson, Ann Collier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across the United States, disproportionate numbers of students of color are found to be eligible for special education services and receive services under subjective eligibility categories such as emotional/behavioral disorders. Disproportionality in subjective categories of special education indicates that students of color may be found eligible for services based on a cultural mismatch between the teachers and the students rather than possessing an actual disability. This study presents a review of literature related to disproportionality and the formula used to determine disproportionality (over- or underrepresentation), describes a teacher quality enhancement program designed to eliminate disproportionality in one local education agency (LEA), and presents the results from a mixed methods study investigating the effectiveness of this program. The quantitative and qualitative data reveal increased cultural awareness and sensitivity toward working with culturally and linguistically diverse students and with the potential to impact the special education referral and eligibility process in this LEA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-595
Number of pages21
JournalAction in Teacher Education
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 31 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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