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Section 9

ak dept education

special ed handbook


Disproportionality refers to the overrepresentation/overidentification or under representation/under identification of the number of students of a particular racial/ethnic group in any given area of education. The over or under representation of racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse students in special education has been considered one of the most significant challenges faced across the country in the last few decades.

Districts must maintain data of race, ethnicity and disability area to determine if any group is represented disproportionately. Policies and procedures must be in place to prevent overidentification. The State must examine data at both the SEA and LEA level and determine whether disproportionality on the basis of race and ethnicity is occurring in the incidence, duration and type of disciplinary action, in addition to identification and placement as children with disabilities.

A detailed in depth discussion on Disproportionality can be obtained in the Alaska State Performance Plan (SPP) – 2005. This report is located on line at:

Requirements From IDEA 2004

Analysis of Disproportionality
States must determine if significant disproportionality is occurring with respect to:
  • The identification of children as children with disabilities and in accordance with a particular impairment.
  • Their placement in particular educational settings.
  • The incidence, duration and type of disciplinary actions.
IDEA Requirements when reviewing policies and procedures
In the case of a determination of significant disproportionality, the State must:
  • Provide for the review and, if appropriate, revision of the policies, procedures and practices.
  • Require any LEAs where significant overidentification occurs to reserve the maximum amount of funds under Section 613(f) to provide comprehensive coordinated early intervening services, particularly to serve children in those groups that are significantly overidentified.
  • Require the LEA to publicly report on the revision of policies, practices and procedures.
AK EED Next Steps:
  1. To continue analysis of the IDEA 2004 indicators of performance related to disproportionality including: achievement, completion, discipline, and LRE.
  2. To examine environment factors that may be contributing to disproportionality in special education in Alaska (such as FAS).
  3. Develop and implement a plan for the review of school district policies, procedures and practices, for identification and placement of students with IEPs, particularly for Native American students.
  4. Educate, inform and collaborate with General Education to ensure equitable educational opportunities for all Alaskan students.

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