Minority Representation in Special Education Academic Article uri icon


  • Overrepresentation of minority students in special education has been a concern for more than 3 decades. Such overrepresentation has triggered a number of legal challenges, educational reforms, and legislative actions. However, a question still remains in the field: Have there been any recent changes or improvements? We addressed this question by analyzing data published by the federal government. Racial representation along with regional variations and state poverty rates were examined. The results indicated that American Indian/Alaskan Native and African American students were overrepresented in high-incidence disabilities (i.e., emotional and behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, and mental retardation); that significant regional variations existed in minority representation, but that these variations were not correlated with state poverty rates; and that racial representation in certain disability categories was negatively correlated with state poverty rates for certain racial groups.

published proceedings

  • Remedial and Special Education

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, D., & Katsiyannis, A.

citation count

  • 61

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Dalun||Katsiyannis, Antonis

publication date

  • May 2002