What is Significant Disproportionality in Education?

Having significant disproportionality means that students of a particular race/ethnicity are significantly more likely than their other-race peers to be identified as students with disabilities, identified in a particular disability category, placed in a particular educational setting, or suspended/expelled as a disciplinary measure. The Federal government under IDEA Section 618(d) requires that each state examines whether significant disproportionality based on race and ethnicity is occurring at the local education agency (LEA) and State levels on an annual basis. If significant disproportionality exists, a review of policies, practices and procedures is required, which must be revised as appropriate.

These requirements stem from national historical trends that “Children with disabilities are often disproportionately and unfairly suspended and expelled from school and educated in classrooms separate from their peers. Children of color with disabilities are overrepresented within the special education population, and the contrast in how frequently they are disciplined is even starker” (U.S. Department of Education, 2016).

The long-term impacts of significant disproportionality can include: lost instructional days; reduced access to rigorous curriculum, lower academic expectations and achievement, lower graduation rates, higher dropout rates, emotional and social issues, stigmatization, and fewer opportunities for post-secondary academic and career opportunities.

What is Root Cause Analysis?

Root Cause Analysis is a process school districts, regional/county organizations, and state departments of education use to identify the basis for the disproportionality. Stakeholders triangulate and analyze multiple data points to discern patterns of behavior and determine impetus for the disproportionality. From these findings, the stakeholders are able to hypothesize the problem and formulate solution-based plans.

Key Benefits

Shines light on disparities in the discipline of students with disabilities on the basis of race or ethnicity in order to identify major improvement strategies.
Districts that learn how to use the Root Cause Analysis as a means to monitor their data have experienced success minimizing the risk of students receiving disproportionate services and support.

How We Can Help

We utilize a four-phase model for assisting school districts in responding to disproportionality. Our team, led by CDE approved Technical Assistance Facilitator, Dr. Jon Eyler, can assist districts with the root cause analysis and assist with the development of a Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CCEIS) plan to address areas of disproportionality based on your state’s requirements.

What you can expect from us:

  • Individualized service and support - We will serve as your thought-partner when developing your districts’ CCEIS plan. Our team will assist districts through the root cause analysis process; to evaluate quantitative and qualitative data, identify root causes of their disproportionality and identify activities designed to produce improved outcomes for students.
  • There every step of the way- We have a step-by-step process to guide the work to create customized solutions. Our team can assist districts through the process from identification through implementation. We also have partnerships with entities like SHAPE Education to help with data analysis.
  • Collaboration and transparency - A shared digital workspace (Padlet) will be created for each district containing a multitude of resources and tools , such as:
    • Presentations
    • CCEIS budget animation for use with leadership and stakeholder teams
    • A simplified Punch List to assist districts maintain compliance with the CCEIS timelines
    • Resources from NEA Education Policy and Practice Department, California Department of Education (CDE), State Performance Plan Technical Assistant Project (SPPTAP), System Improvement Leads (SIL) project, and more. Resources will fluctuate based on the state's needs and requirements.
    • Sample Reports
    • Work Products

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