Getting to the core: Addressing the overrepresentation of students of color in special education through culturally relevant core instruction

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shanice R. Harrington (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Jess Weiler

Abstract: In education, disproportionality, often used interchangeably with overrepresentation, is defined as, "the high probability of being placed in special education, based on membership in a historically marginalized group" (Oswald, Coutinho, Best, & Singh, 1999). Research findings have identified root causes of disproportionality as a lack of culturally competent teachers, curriculum that is not culturally relevant, or a need for professional development on equity. This disquisition, or dissertation in practice, provides an analysis of the implementation and outcomes associated with one school's improvement process that was aimed at reducing the overrepresentation for students of color in special education. The intermeditate goal was addressing disproprtionality and implicit bias, as well as improving capacity to implement culturally relevant practices through professional developemnt. Pre- and post-test data were collected in the form of survey responses and an efficacy scale related to evidence-based culturally relevant practices. Qualitative data were collected in journal reflections and a focus group, and analyzed using coding to develop themes. Quanititaive data were analyzed using a one sample t-test to determine if there was a statistical significance. The results demsontrated statisical and marginal significance in teachers’ self-efficacy to implement culturally relevant practices, and themes of awareness related to disproportionality and implicit bias. The results of implmentation reveal that the professional development was effective at addressing the intermediate goal of awareness. While this disquisition focused on participants being self-reflective to improve their efficacy, future research would be needed to determine if improved efficacy translates to proportional representation of SoC in special education.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Students of Color (SoC), Disproportionality, Culturally Relevant Teaching
Culturally relevant pedagogy
Racial justice in education
Teachers -- Training of
Special education
Students, Black
Indigenous American students
Asian American students
Hispanic American students

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