Significant Disproportionality

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B requires states and local educational agencies (LEAs) to address the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education. The statute and regulations for the IDEA include important requirements on how states and LEAs must address disproportionate representation in special education.  

Significant Disproportionality Requirements

States have separate obligations to collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the state and the LEAs, under 20 U.S.C. 1418 (d) and 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §300.646, with respect to:

  • the identification of students with disabilities, ages 6-21, including identification of students with particular impairments;
  • the placement of students in particular educational settings; and
  • the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions occurring for students, including suspensions and expulsions.

State Definition

Texas applies the methods found in 34 CFR §300.647 and exercises the flexibilities found in subsections (b) and (d) of the regulation. The crosswalk below lists elements within the federal regulations and corresponding actions that define significant disproportionality in Texas.

 

Significant Disproportionality (SD) Regulation Crosswalk - Texas

SD requirement

State Flexibility

Defined in Texas

Minimum cell size

Yes

The minimum number of children, being 10 in Texas, experiencing a particular outcome and used as the numerator when calculating the risk for a particular group or the comparison group.

Minimum n-size

Yes

The minimum number of children, being 30 in Texas, enrolled in an LEA with respect to  identification, and the minimum number of children with disabilities enrolled in an LEA with respect to placement and disciple, to be used as the denominator when calculating the risk for a particular group or the comparison group.

Comparison group

No

All other racial or ethnic groups within an LEA or within the state, when reviewing a particular racial or ethnic group within an LEA.

Risk

No

A calculation performed by dividing the number of children from a specified racial or ethnic group or groups experiencing that outcome by the total number of children from that racial or ethnic group or groups enrolled in the LEA, resulting in the likelihood of a particular outcome.

Risk ratio

No

A calculation performed by dividing the risk of a particular outcome for children in one racial or ethnic group within an LEA by the risk for children in all other racial and ethnic groups within the LEA .

Alternate risk ratio

No

A calculation performed by dividing the risk of a particular outcome for children in one racial or ethnic group within an LEA by the risk of that outcome for children in all other racial or ethnic groups in the State, applied when the comparison group in the LEA does not meet the minimum cell size or the minimum n-size.

Risk ratio threshold

Yes

The level by which each required category is determined to be above or below significant risk. Texas, with significant input from stakeholders, has set the threshold at 2.5 in all 98 required category calculations.

Annual or consecutive year analysis

Yes

Allows for up to three prior consecutive years preceding the determination of “significant disproportionality”.  Texas, beginning in Fall 2019, will identify LEAs as having “significant disproportionality” who exceed the risk ratio threshold in the same category for three consecutive years and who do not meet reasonable progress, reported publicly as “SD (Year 3)” in the LEA’s Results Driven Accountability (RDA) report each fall – (formerly the Performance Based Monitoring and Analysis System report).

Reasonable progress (RP)

Yes

RP designation requires an LEA to reduce its risk ratio in each of two prior consecutive years. TEA will use the Proportionate Improvement Methodfor calculating RP. This method requires an LEA to achieve a two-year decrease in SD risk ratio proportional to the difference between the threshold (2.5) and an LEA’s first-year risk ratio (SD Year 1). An LEA meets RP designation in its third year of SD if the difference between its current year risk ratio and its first year risk ratio meets the rate of progress needed to fall below the SD threshold (2.5) in year four.

Exceptions to calculations

Yes

Texas does not calculate a risk ratio or alternate risk ratio in a particular category for an LEA if the particular racial or ethnic group being analyzed does not meet the minimum cell size (10) or minimum n-size (30); or if the comparison group in the state does not meet the minimum cell size (10) or minimum n-size (30).

 

LEAs identified as having significant disproportionality, or “SD (Year 3)” as reported publicly in the Results Driven Accountability (RDA) report each fall (formerly the Performance Based Analysis System report) must meet the requirements found at 34 CFR §300.646 (c) and (d). These requirements and additional information regarding state and federal updates for significant disproportionality are included in the documents listed below.

Additional Resources