Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Susan Korach, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Sheri Charles

Third Advisor

Kristina Hesbol


African American, Disproportionality, Emotional disturbance, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Interrupted time series, Special education


The aim of this study was to systematically investigate the trends of disproportionate representation of African American students in special education when compared to Caucasian special education students in emotional disturbance category as well as the trends in disproportionality of emotional disturbance classification after the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). African American students in special education are disproportionately represented when compared to Caucasian special education students but uncertainty persists regarding the nature and the extent of the problem (Aud et al., 2010; Countinho & Oswald, 2002; Skiba et al., 2006, 2008). This study employed a mixed methods multiple case analysis to examine changes in student data trends before and after implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. Using national data from the Office of Special Education Programs from 2000-2011 on students with emotional disturbance, the study used an Interrupted Time Series (ITS) design to explore disproportionality trends after IDEIA implementation. To explore implementation, the researcher selected six states that represented a range of student data trends regarding ED classification and examined their policies and practice.

The quantitative results revealed that since the implementation of the IDEIA the identification trends of African-American and Caucasian students with emotional disturbance decreased noticeably. Conversely, the data displayed that the trend of the Caucasian students identified as emotionally disturbed decreased significantly, the coefficient was -162.36 units p

Multiple studies have indicated that disproportionality continue to be a persistent, recurring dilemma in public education for nearly four decades (Artiles & Bal, 2008; Aud et al., 2010; Countinho & Oswald, 2000 Hosp & Reschly, 2004). The findings of this study both support this research and offer guidance to policy makers and educational leaders to improve policy implementation. The patterns and trends derived from the data and examined in this study confirm that educational policy and practice is only as effective as its systems of enforcement, monitoring, and conservation.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Ghirmay Alazar


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

142 p.


Special education, Education policy, African American studies