Special Education measures the number and percentage of students who received special education services according to the terms of an individualized education program. Special education students receive services because of special needs such as mental retardation, autism, emotional disturbance, physical or health impairments, or specific learning disabilities. Gifted and talented students and pregnant students were not included.
Historically, special education programs have been viewed to over-represent minority populations. Because of the subjectivity of evaluating eligibility for special education programs, many minority populations have been identified as having disabilities such as mental retardation, emotional disturbances, or developmental delays. Including minority populations in these programs when they lack the need for such services places them at an educational disadvantage1. It may also deny these students educational opportunities that are not available to them through special education programs, putting them at a disadvantage to succeed academically, which ultimately plays a role in their health2.
1 Education Sector: Independent Analysis, Innovative Ideas. Labeled: The Students Behind NCLB's "Disabilities" Designation. Erin Dillon. July 17, 2007. http://www.educationsector.org/analysis/analysis_show.htm?doc_id=509392
2 California Newsreel, Nationality Minority Consortia, Joint Center Health Policy Institute. Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/resources.php?topic_id=3
The data is pulled from the Connecticut Department of Education's Connecticut Education Data and Research (CEDAR) site (http://www.csde.state.ct.us/public/cedar/index.htm).