Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Child, Family, and School Psychology

First Advisor

Cynthia Hazel

Second Advisor

Nick Cutforth

Third Advisor

Devadrita Talapatra

Fourth Advisor

Duan Zhang


Data visualization, Dis/ability, Disproporitonality, Gender, Intersectionality, Race


Disproportionality in special education (SPED) is upheld by systems and individuals, policies, and practices that both reflect and shape the local communities within which it exists. Even with many proposed solutions for disproportionality, it persists. This two-manuscript dissertation explores two characteristics that make disproportionality difficult to solve (e.g., inconsistent findings and persistence) and proposes a tool to inform data-based decision making in interventions for disproportionality in SPED.

Manuscript One (M1) includes a literature review and development of the Gender and Race Intersectionality Disproportionality- Tool (GRID-T). Based on the findings of the literature review about inconsistence and persistence, I crafted three criteria to enhance interventions for disproportionality: 1) utilization of local data, 2) the use of intersectional data, and 3) criterion comparisons. The GRID-T is a web-based visualization of gender, race, and dis/ability risk ratios for individual schools calculated from the 2017-2018 Office for Civil Rights data.

Manuscript Two (M2) is a Delphi study that was used to preliminary validate the GRID-T. I conducted three rounds of iterative questioning with eight experts in MTSS. The findings of this study suggested that the utility of the tool included: promoting awareness, preventing disproportionality, and informing root cause analyses. The limitations of the tool included the “We’re Fine” mentality, misinformed nonaction, and limited comparisons. The prerequisite knowledge needed to use the GRID-T effectively fell into three categories: statistical training, educational training, and website training. Finally, the suggested improvements included providing information on action planning and further resources for what users can do after using the GRID-T. Overall, the study of the GRID-T as an intervention for disproportionality in SPED provided clear uses and limits that will help inform the trainings created for and initial uses of the GRID-T in practice.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

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

Rights Holder

Audrey J. Ford


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


332 pgs

File Size

6.2 MB


Special education, Disability studies

Available for download on Friday, September 12, 2025