School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Gail Collins

Primary Subject Area

Education, Special


Disproportionality, Environment, Minorities, Response to Intervention, Special Education, Teacher Training


Special Education and Teaching


The intent of this study was to determine if special education teachers had certain perceptions regarding the disproportionate amount of minorities in special education classes. I examined special education teachers' awareness of the disproportionality, their causal theories, and the effectiveness of Response to Intervention (RTI) to regulate disproportionality. I implemented three different data collection methods to measure the teachers' perceptions: an initial face-to-face interview session, a written survey, and additional interview questioning. Participants in the study included 11 special education teachers from three middle schools in Northern Georgia. Ten of the 11 teachers admitted awareness of the problem of disproportionality, reporting causes based on problems with teacher training and student home environment, including socioeconomic status. Six of the 11 teachers thought RTI would help regulate the rates of students of minority races placed in special education due to increased interventions and a lengthier timeline involved before special education placement. Limitations of this study include the lack of diversity of the participants in this study, and the hesitations many people experience when asked to converse openly on the topic of race, where often perceptions expressed are not always the ones perceived. Findings from a study such as this one can heighten awareness on the subject of disproportionate amounts of students from overrepresented minority races in special education. Suggestions for further research are also included.