Perspectives regarding disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in high-incidence special education programs in the United States
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Online publication date: 2014-02-04
Health Psychology Report 2013;1(1):42–51
The number of culturally and linguistically diverse students in the U.S. is growing, and research shows they are often underassessed, misdiagnosed, and placed into special education unnecessarily. This problem mainly concerns high-incidence, or judgmental, disabilities such as learning disability, emotional disturbance, or mental retardation.

Participants and procedure
In this study, the author examines how some educators perceive and address culturally and linguistically diverse students in the U.S. A survey developed by the author was used to examine how educators perceive culturally and linguistically diverse student populations and how one Midwestern school system in the United States dealt with culturally and linguistically diverse students’ needs versus expected ideal practices.

Results indicated that most participants recognized that the issue of disproportionate representation is nationwide, but did not believe that their district shared that problem.

Participants indicated that best practices were not being followed maximally to reduce and avoid the problem of disproportionate representation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in special education programs. Difficulties in meeting students’ needs may be related to cultural differences that school personnel are unable to assess or address. Recommendations include suggestions for further studies and for applying the survey in other school systems to increase the understanding and improve their practice in working with culturally and linguistically diverse students.
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