School Segregation and Racial Gaps in Special Education Identification
71 Pages Posted: 13 May 2019 Last revised: 27 Feb 2021
Date Written: May 2019
We use linked birth and education records from Florida to investigate how the identification of childhood disabilities varies by race and school racial composition. Using a series of decompositions, we find that black and Hispanic students are identified with disabilities at lower rates than are observationally similar white students. Black and Hispanic students are over-identified in schools with relatively small shares of minorities and substantially under-identified in schools with large minority shares. Our results are consistent with a heightened awareness among school officials of disabilities in students who are racially and ethnically distinct from the majority race in the school.
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