Pre-Kindergarten education as a possible solution to lessen the problem of disproportionality
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The increased racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. has resulted in a greater number of minority children in the classroom. Misunderstanding of cultural differences of racial/ethnic minority groups can lead to a misdiagnosis of learning difficulties or a referral to be tested for special education services. The inappropriate placement of racial/ethnic minority students into special education programs has contributed to the trend of disproportionality -- the disproportionate representation of certain minority student populations in special education. The concerns of disproportionality, debated for more than forty years, are presented from two perspectives -- the view that disproportionality is no problem and the opposing view that the negative implications of disproportionality are dangerous. Although there is little disagreement on how to define disproportionality and outline the statistics, the research on determining the cause of disproportionality is more controversial. A range of issues, a few of which include race, culture, and disability definitions, can contribute to the problem of disproportionality. By taking into account social and environmental factors that influence school readiness of ethnic minority students as a likely source of disproportionality, the recommendation of access to early childhood opportunities such as Head Start or other preschool programs has been suggested as one solution to help decrease the disproportionality trend. A review of current research and identification of key issues for further study on the effect of pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) educational services on disproportionality is one way to confront the issue of disproportionality and thereby help our nation's commitment of educational equity for all children.