First Placement of Children to Special Education from Kindergarten through 6th Grade: Effects of Race, Class, and Gender

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2008

Project Description/Abstract

Upon kindergarten entry, teachers have a unique opportunity to compare a range of children from different backgrounds on common metrics. While some children will clearly express the skills necessary for learning at grade level, other children will be flagged for potential learning problems. For some children, this means a standardized academic track. For other students, time-limited special education will assist them with age appropriate tests and tasks. For another subgroup of children, special education services will define their learning careers, with part- or full-time special education placements outside of the regular education classroom. The goal of all of these educational placements is to provide high quality services to all children regardless of their learning abilities. The concern, however, is that some children, specifically minority and low-income children, will be flagged for services they do not need or services that will not benefit them.

This study explores several predictors of special education, specifically the contribution of race, class, and gender on a child’s initial placement into special education. In the present study discrete-time survival analysis is utilized to explore the patterns of placement to special education in elementary school. In addition, the role of child gender, race/ethnicity, economic status and early cognitive skills on initial special education placements between kindergarten and 6th grade is examined. Two research questions are considered. First, when do children in the NICHD SECCYD experience initial placement to special education from kindergarten to 6th grade? Second, does initial placement to special education between kindergarten and 6th grade differ as a function of the child’s minority status and gender, controlling for the family’s income-to-needs and the child’s early cognitive skills? This CART summer research grant focuses on completing a research paper on the patterns of special education placement so that it may be disseminated in a professional journal, at professional conferences, and within the BSC community.

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