Parsing the Relations of Race and Socioeconomic Status in Special Education Disproportionality

Aleksis P. Kincaid, Amanda L Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study investigated how student and school-level socioeconomic status (SES) measures predict students’ odds of being identified for special education, particularly high-incidence disabilities. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten cohort, hierarchical models were used to determine the relations of student and school SES to special education identification. Results indicated neither student-level SES variables for parent education, prestige, and income, nor school-level aggregates of SES measures, predicted overall special education placement, but higher parent education attainment was negatively related to high-incidence disability identification (adjusted odds ratio = 0.73). These findings suggest that racial disproportionality is not attributable to racial differences in income and indicate a need for further investigation of the mechanisms by which the longstanding racial disparities in special education emerge and are maintained. In particular, we discuss the implications of this study for further research into the relations of indicators of parent’s status on educational decisions within special education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2016.


  • disability
  • disproportionality
  • race
  • socioeconomic status
  • special education


Dive into the research topics of 'Parsing the Relations of Race and Socioeconomic Status in Special Education Disproportionality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this