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Minority students less likely to be put in special education

If your family identifies with a cultural minority group, you may bring vastly different life experiences to your social circles. This sentiment also likely extends to your children and their environment growing up. Among the issues minority families face in raising children is the achievement gap in school or the noted difference in academic performance between white students and minority students.

Narrowing the achievement gap

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students score 20 to 40 points lower in both reading and math than white students on standardized testing. Education experts say that environmental factors in minority households may impact academic performance including:

  • Poverty
  • Peer pressure
  • Single parenthood
  • Cultural attitudes toward education

Parents and children face these barriers to education every day, and students in need of special education are at an even bigger disadvantage when it comes to gaining access to resources.

Attention to the issues

According to a study by the University of California - Irvine, minority students are less likely to receive special education than white students despite making up one-third of students in need of this kind of attention. The study points out that black students were half as likely to be identified as in need of special education as a white student.

Some conditions that qualify for special education may be more difficult to recognize or diagnose than others too including:

  • Learning disabilities (ADHD, ADD, dyslexia)
  • Emotional disorders (depression, bipolar)
  • Language impairments
  • Autism

If you as a parent are concerned by these statistics, you can take steps to identify your child's learning disability and seek legal resources to get the right education from your child's school.

Special education students are entitled to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in which your school will outline how they will teach your child to accommodate his or her needs, and how they will measure your child's progress. This document is critical to ensuring your child's lifelong achievement and development beyond their education.

Minority children may face additional cultural or social barriers to education, but once those obstacles and disabilities are identified, parents can be proactive about their child's needs.

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