Although the problem of minority overrepresentation in special education programs for the mildly handicapped has been widely recognized and documented, the factors responsible for such an overrepresentation remain the source of much controversy. The most popular explanation continues to be the presence of systematic bias in the assessment process, particularly with regard to intelligence testing. Unfortunately, attempts at isolating and controlling specific facets of this bias have been largely unsuccessful. Furthermore, preoccupation with this problem has detracted our attention from a much more pressing concern: the identification and provision of effective instructional services prior to referring minority students to special education. The purpose of this manuscript was to describe alternative approaches to dealing with the overrepresentation problem. Specifically, we have highlighted the importance of using alternative instructional strategies prior to referral, and have described five practices that appear to hold promise in this area.
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