Minority Overrepresentation in Special Education: A Funcational Assessment Perspective

Larry Maheady, Bob Algozzine, James E. Ysseldyke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Minority overrepresentation refers to the recurrent finding that many more minority students are being served in special education programs for the mildly handicapped than would be expected based solely upon their representation in the general school population. Such findings have frequently touched off heated and seemingly endless debates in the professional literature regarding the cause(s) of this phenomenon and have more often than not resulted in recommendations calling for additions, deletions, or modifications to existing psychoeducational assessment practices. For the most part, these recommended changes reflect only cosmetic solutions to a cortceptually-deficient assessment model. This model assumes that academic failure is primarily the result of inherent problems within the learner and proceeds to search for pathology through the routine administration of standard test batteries. This article suggests that many academic difficulties may be directly attributable to deficiencies in students’ learning environments, and suggests procedures for examining and ruling out such possibilities before beginning a comprehensive evaluation of the learner. A functional assessment perspective is proposed and potential roadblocks to implementation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-19
Number of pages15
JournalSpecial Services in the Schools
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 19 1984


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