The Effect of Cultural Competence on Special Education Referral

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shomara Yolanda Reyes (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: African American students continue to be overrepresented in classes for students with high incidence handicaps. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of cultural competence on pre-service teachers' decisions to make a special education referral. Two hundred twenty-six pre-service teachers completed a cultural competence survey and an analogue case study. Participants were given the option to make no referral of the student in the case study, make a referral for academic problems, behavior concerns, or for both. There was no significant difference in the overall rate of referral across the participant group. Participants with lower levels of cultural competence, however, were more likely to make a referral for behavioral concerns and were more likely to refer the African American student for behavioral concerns. The participants with lower levels of cultural competence may not accurately assess the severity of behavior issues exhibited by students from different cultural backgrounds. This may account for the higher rate of referral of the African American student for behavioral concerns.   Cultural competence is increasingly more important as the students of the United States become more racially and ethnically diverse. Helping teachers to increase their level of cultural competence may assist teachers in providing more effective instruction in the general education classroom. This may also reduce the number of referrals of African American students for special education and thereby reduce the overrepresentation of African Americans in special education classes.  

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Psychology, Social, Education, Special

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