Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Standards Needed to Improve Identification of Racial and Ethnic Overrepresentation in Special Education

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In 2010, states required about 2 percent of all districts to use Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds for early intervening services to address the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic groups in special education. Based on definitions states individually developed to measure this overrepresentation-- referred to in IDEA as significant disproportionality--356 districts were required to provide services. Half of these districts were clustered in five states and 73 were in Louisiana alone. States have used flexibility provided by Education to develop their own definitions of ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. February 27, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In 2010, states required about 2 percent of all districts to use Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds for early intervening services to address the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic groups in special education. Based on definitions states individually developed to measure this overrepresentation-- referred to in IDEA as significant disproportionality--356 districts were required to provide services. Half of these districts were clustered in five states and 73 were in Louisiana alone. States have used flexibility provided by Education to develop their own definitions of significant disproportionality and GAO's analysis of 16 selected states found wide variation in definitions. Further, GAO found that the way some states defined overrepresentation made it unlikely that any districts would be identified and thus required to provide early intervening services. Nebraska and Louisiana illustrate differing outcomes that can result from different state definitions. In Nebraska, one of 21 states that did not require any districts to provide services in 2010-11, racial and ethnic groups must be identified for special education at a rate three times higher than for other groups for 2 consecutive years. In contrast, racial and ethnic groups in Louisiana districts must be identified for special education at twice the rate of other students in any year. GAO's analysis found if Nebraska had used Louisiana's definition, Nebraska districts may have been required to provide services and, conversely, Louisiana might have identified fewer districts under Nebraska's definition."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 27, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Standards Needed to Improve Identification of Racial and Ethnic Overrepresentation in Special Education, report, February 27, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296428/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.