The Austin American-Statesman reports that minorities are over-represented in special education referrals in AISD, and under-represented in advanced placement courses. LINK
A 13-member city and school district task force, tapped to examine educational issues affecting African Americans, recently issued recommendations for improving Austin's special education services. The task force found that among persistent achievement gaps, African American students had low participation rates in advanced courses and high rates of referral to disciplinary and special education programs. The conclusions about African American students, who make up about 13 percent of Austin students overall but 20 percent of special education students, reflect decades-long historical patterns and national trends, education experts say.
Overrepresentation occurs in part because teachers are inadequately trained to differentiate between struggling learners and those with disorders, the experts say. Lowered expectations among teachers regarding minority students' abilities and a cultural disconnect among teachers who may not come from the communities they serve also contribute to inflated referrals, they say.