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Reducing System-wide Racial Disproportionality in the Prevalence of Students Identified as Mentally Retarded. NCCREST 2 nd Annual National Forum Leadership for Equity and Excellence: Transforming Education Washington DC: Feb. 7 th -9 th 2007 Enid Amos, Linda Gaskill, Robert Hull

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Reducing System-wide Racial Disproportionality in the Prevalence of Students Identified as Mentally Retarded

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Reducing System-wide Racial Disproportionality in the Prevalence of Students Identified as Mentally Retarded

NCCREST 2nd Annual National Forum

Leadership for Equity and Excellence: Transforming Education

Washington DC: Feb. 7th -9th 2007

Enid Amos, Linda Gaskill, Robert Hull

Prince Georges County Public School System

[email protected]


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The Content of this Presentation is Directed at Districts that Have Been Identified as Racially Disproportionate in Relation to the Prevalence of Students with Mental Retardation


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IDEA 2004and Racial Disproportionality

Requires state education agencies and local school systems to develop policies and procedures designed to prevent the over identification or disproportionality by race of children with disabilities.

Each state must provide for the collection and examination of data to determine if significant disproportionality is occurring in the state and the local educational agencies.

This applies to overall disability rates, rates by disability code and placement in particular settings.


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IDEA 2004 requires that in the case of a determination of significant disproportionality, with respect to the identification of children with disabilities the state must:

  • Provide for the review of the policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they comply with the requirements of IDEA 2004,

  • Require any LEA identified as being disproportionate to reserve the maximum amount of funds under 613f to provide comprehensive, coordinated early intervening services to those groups that are significantly over identified and

  • Require the LEA to publicly report on the revision of policies, practices and procedures.


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Implications of No Child Left Behind and IDEA 2004

  • Teachers and Related Service Providers must be highly qualified.

    • Do racial minorities and poverty level students have the same access to highly qualified teachers and related service providers?

  • Are evidence based interventions accessible to minority and poverty level students at the same rate as all students?

  • Highly qualified staff and access to evidence programs are mandated to be the foundation of efforts to address disproportionality.


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Key Concepts

  • Since 1997 IDEA has prioritized identifying and responding to disproportionality

    • National data suggest that disproportionality is getting worse not better

  • Data suggest that Disproportionality is due to complex multiple factors including some very positive reasons ie. early identification efforts, alternative programming and effective drop out prevention programs

  • The IDEA 2004 has placed a renewed emphasis on responding to disproportionality

  • There are multiple examples of effective methods to respond to this issue


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Epidemiological Issues

  • How do we determine whether Census vs. Enrollment data are appropriate as the denominator?

  • What do age distribution curves tell us?

  • What level of effort will give us the impact we are looking for?


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School Count Vs. Census Count Risk Ratios (NCCREST Data 03/04)

Risk Ratio of MR Census Count

The darker the color the higher the risk ratio (white is excluded)

Risk Ratio of MR School Count

The darker the color the higher the risk ratio (white is excluded)

Some states get worse some seem better???

If there are these kinds of differences in states then we

can expect these kinds of differences in local districts


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Census Data

Local School district #1

Children 5-18 114446

White 31%

Black 65.1%

MR rate 1552/114446, .0136

School Count

Local School district #1

Enrollment 85,468

White 8.3%

Black 86.8%

MR rate 1552/85468, .0181

Epidemiological data on the Rates of Mental Retardation of Children Census Data vs. School Count

Is the difference in rates of approximately a 33% important? Which is more accurate?


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Census Data

Local School District #2

Children 5-18 92468

White 81%

Black 15%

MR rate 416/92468, .0045

School Count

Local School District #2

Enrollment 73565

White 70%

Black 25%

MR rate 416/73565, .0057

Epidemiological data on the Rates of Mental Retardation of Children Census Data vs. School Count

Is the difference in rates of approximately a 25% important ??

What should your district use?

Can we fairly compare these two districts??


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Age Distribution Curve:

Prevalence of Students

Age Distribution Curve: Prevalence

Age Distribution Curve: Prevalence of Students

of Students with Communication

with Mental Retardation

Mental Retardation

Maryland Data

Disorders Maryland Data

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What do Age Distribution Curves tell us?

Students stay in school longer

Slope stays the same from 4 to 14


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Some of the questions that school psychologists and educational leaders are asking about this data include;

  • At what age is racial disproportionality evident?

  • Why would a disability that is typically thought of as expressed in the early developmental period not be identified until after several years of education?

  • Does delay in service contribute to racial disproportionality?

  • Are we focusing efforts on impacting early education when the problem is in late elementary to high school?


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Some of the questions that school psychologists and educational leaders are asking about this data include;

  • Are intellectual levels falling as children age thus suggesting that Mental Retardation is acquired?

  • Are identification procedures different across the age span? Do we measure different cognitive functions at later developmental periods?

  • Are students being reclassified as MR from other disabilities in order to access more restrictive placements?


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What level of effort will give us the impact we are looking for?Or What will happen ifFrom Now On I’ll Be Good

Acme Township MR data

  • 100 students identified as mentally retarded, 50 white & 50 black

  • LEA has overall racial population of 75% white, 25% black

  • Risk Ratio=2.0

  • 10% of MR students graduate, transfer or drop-out and 10% new students identified.

  • Starting now, proportion of newly identified MR students will be consistent with racial composition of district population


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Pop Quiz

  • Given data from the last slide how long will it take for Acme Township to reach a Risk Ratio of 1.0 ?

  • 3 years

  • 5 years

  • Until IDEA is reauthorized

  • Until I retire, and someone else fixes it


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> 3 Years of Perfection

Start: 100 @ 50:50………….Risk Ratio=2

>1 Y: 10 exited. Incoming@ 7.5:2.5 New Totals: 52.5:47.5

>2 Y: 10 exited. Incoming@ 7.5:2.5 New Totals: 55:45

>3 Y: 10 exited. Incoming@ 7.5:2.5 New Totals: 57.5:42.5

Risk Ratio=1.7


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We cannot meet the expectations of IDEA by only addressing New Cases

We must develop a procedure to review existing cases if we are to change racial disproportionality


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Suggestions for improving the assessment, evaluation and team decision making for students who are referred for possible identification of mental retardation.


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Comparing State Procedures

  • Is Mental Retardation a clear cut, rigorously defined diagnostic category? Here is a brief review of a few select states

    • Wisconsin

      • Operationally defined Cognitive Disability at a state level, collected data on impact and determined that the definition slightly changed disproportionality in low income groups

    • Tennessee

      • Adding an additional category Mental Retardation vs. Functionally Delayed, developed operational definitions and exclusionary worksheet


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Comparing State Procedures

  • Is Mental Retardation a clear cut, rigorously defined diagnostic category? Here is a brief review of a few select states

    • Georgia, Florida

    • Developed operational definition and qualifications of examiner Defined difference between mild, moderate, severe and profound

      • Should we exclude provisional and contractual staff from assessing students suspected of MR?

  • Connecticut

    • Developed Guidelines for Intellectual Disability, (2000)

      • Conceptual, Practical and Social Intelligence

      • NCCREST data indicates a change from a risk ratio of 4.45 in 99/00 to (2.83 in 04/05)


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Team Considerations

  • List the areas that teams need to consider

    • Medical

    • Sensory

    • Social/Emotional

    • Attention/Concentration/Executive Functioning

    • Lack of School Experience

    • Communication Problems

    • Validity of Assessment Devices


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Evaluation ProcessRequire Multiple Confirming Data

  • Assessment is solution-focused not classification- focused

  • Validity and reliability (confidence intervals)

  • Unbiased assessments

  • Multiple confirming data

    • Quantitative and qualitative

  • Multiple environments

  • Strengths and weaknesses

  • Context

  • Adaptive behavior, direct and indirect measures

  • Adaptive measures from multiple environments e.g., home, school, Community (non-academic settings, Sunday school)

  • Approved list of assessment devices


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Improving Reliability & Validity of MR Eligibility

  • Definition of terms

  • Definition of eligibility

  • Eligibility determination checklist

  • Guidelines for referral to IEP team

  • Guidelines for dismissal or change of disability, from MR to another category and from another category to MR

  • Required Assessments, for MR and for exclusionary factors

  • Definition of Developmentally Delayed and Communication Disorder


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Benefits of Developing a Well Defined Comprehensive Team Evaluation Process

Improved:

  • Accuracy/Consistency in identification & service delivery

  • Supervision and audit decision making

  • Requiring comprehensive re-evaluations who are identified as Mild MR

  • Review incoming records

  • Focus on teams or schools that need training


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If you are a district that has been identified as disproportionate

What do we do?


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Helpful Policies and Procedures that Reduce DisproportionalityInitial Identification

  • Student needs should drive programming and placement decisions (based on present level of performance and response to intervention) rather than disability codes.

  • Procedures for Differential Classification of students at a young age, Developmentally Delayed, Speech/Language Impaired. Consistent with IDEA limitations

  • Appropriate services for ancillary conditions (family stress, limited access to educational opportunity utilization of early intervention services)

  • Assessment guidelines ie. Use of multiple sources of data that are consistent


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Policies and Procedures that Improve Length of Stay

  • Fostering independence and Fading student supports for successful students…Prioritizing Academic Enabling and Requisite Learning Behaviors on Every IEP How can we promote a highly motivated independent learners?

  • The use of “temporary” assignment of students into disability categories and special education

  • Address parents misconceptions regarding classification and placement….Parent training


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Requiring Comprehensive Reassessments

  • Comprehensive reassessments should be mandated on students identified as mildly mentally retarded

    • With the same rigor as initial assessment

    • Must include a response to intervention component, if a child is learning at a higher rate than what is expected from his intelligence then mental retardation is not an appropriate disability code

    • Review all incoming students who have a code of mental retardation within thirty days of enrollment


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Advantages

Reduce pressure of fitting students into inadequate classification systems

Provides method for accessing needed resources to close the gap between expectations and performance

Keeps high level of teacher expectation and access to rigorous curriculum

Promotes inclusion and differentiated instruction

Challenges

Addressing funding issues

System buy in and changing mind sets

Funding for development of guidelines and training school system staff

Addressing current misconceptions regarding mental retardation

Eligibility for alternative testing

Concerns about high stakes assessment and AYP

Exploring Alternative Disability Coding


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Systems Change

Comprehensive, Coordinated Early Intervening Services for Students with Mental Retardation


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Comprehensive, Coordinated Early Intervening Services for Students with Mental Retardation Includes Examining:

  • Epidemiological data on the rates of mental Retardation of children including school based and public health data analysis methods

  • The process for developing a needs assessment and surveillance system that can focus local education agencies efforts to provide targeted audits and technical support

  • Policies and procedures that select school districts are using that seem to have impacted disproportionality


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Comprehensive, Coordinated Early Intervening Services for Students with Mental Retardation Includes Examining:

  • Suggestions for improving the assessment, evaluation and team decision making for students who are referred for possible identification of mentally retarded

  • The potential impact of co-occurring conditions, early stress, and demographic factors, medical factors on the identification of mental retardation


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Comprehensive, Coordinated Early Intervening Services for Students with Mental Retardation Includes Examining

  • The impact of delay in service for students who are at risk of being identified as mentally retarded on future identification rates

  • The use of evidence based interventions for students that are at risk of being identified as mentally retarded

  • The use of evidence based interventions for students who are identified as mentally retarded with the intent of mitigating the impact of the disability on education and facilitating their acquisition or ability to demonstrate cognitive improvement


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Priorities and Changes

  • Cost Effectiveness: Which solutions generate most change? Immediacy, Expense, Impact

  • What is cost of change vs. maintenance of current effort?

  • What are the legal mandates?

  • What are the executive pressures for change?

  • How will the family and advocacy organizations be involved?


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