Minimizing Pedagogically Induced Disabilities In Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

Minimizing Pedagogically Induced Disabilities In Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

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There is a lot of literature that discusses the overwhelming misrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse students in the special education system. The disproportionate numbers are over-represented for students that are disabled and under-represented for students that are gifted (Shealey, McHatton & Wilson, 2011). Research has found that many of these cases are a result of errors that occur in the diagnostic process. Misdiagnosis can occur because of various reasons, including cultural bias, low teacher efficacy, or personality conflict between teacher and student. Dina is a student whose challenges in the classroom clearly exemplify how misdiagnosis can occur, because her multilingualism and diverse cultural background present a challenge for her teacher. While a diagnosis that entitles one to special education services can be beneficial for many students, it can be disadvantageous to those who are not actually disabled. Many students receive “labels” that they do not feel they deserve (Arnold and Lassman, 2003), and many students placed in the special education system suffer from low expectations and are not pushed to reach their maximum potential. This is a big issue in our increasingly diverse society, and the high incidence of pedagogically induced disabilities must be addressed.
There are a number of possible causes behind the amount of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in the special education system. One of the main causes is the potential for racial bias to affect the diagnostic and referral process. Arnold and Lassmann, (2003) suggest that by looking closely at the diagnostic process, it is possible to find sources of unconscious bias against specific races or ethnic groups. F...

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...cher, and in his students as learners, can have a tremendous impact on each student that comes his way, regardless of where she comes from.


Arnold, M., & Lassmann, M. E. (2003). Overrepresentation of minority students in special education. Education (Chula Vista, Calif.), 124(2), 230-236.
Chu, S. Y. (2011). Teacher perceptions of their efficacy for special education referral of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Education, 132(1), 3-14.
Jimenez, T. C., Graf, V. L., & Rose, E. (2007). Gaining access to general education: The promise of universal design for learning. Issues in Teacher Education, 16(2), 41- 54.
Shealey, M. W., McHatton, P. A., & Wilson, V. (2011). Moving beyond disproportionality: The role of culturally responsive teaching in special education. Teaching Education, 22(4), 377-396.

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