Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Martha Montero-Sieburth

Second Advisor

Joseph W. Check

Third Advisor

Dolores Lidia Cabrera-Pérez


The purpose of this study was to examine research studies conducted at the K-6 grades of public school in the U.S. covering from 1997-2008 with regard to how diverse students, in particular Latino, White, African American and Asian are identified, placed, and represented in special education programs at the national, state and school district level. This study was a research synthesis of the studies identified and used qualitative meta-analytic technique. By using meta-analytic techniques, I was able to identify those salient studies that examined how students become identified as needing special education services, and once identified, to assess how a student is placed. Furthermore, the use of qualitative meta-analytic techniques provided for comparison of a variety of studies by determining the relationship between the studies to be synthesized. The concern whether students of different culturally and linguistically background are appropriately identified and placed in special education has been clearly recognized and documented in literature. However, the identification of the academic and social barriers for those students is not clearly understood and highlighted; leading to an apparent overrepresentation in special education. While on paper, the special education identification and placement process includes numerous checks and balances designed to guarantee the process is reasonable and legitimate for all students, as executed, continue to be loaded with challenges, such as the disproportionate representation in special education. This study found that the identification and placement process in special education is problematic in not only being mislabeled, but also denies the equal education diverse students are entitled.


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