By Alexa Lardieri
The high number of racial minorities placed in special education for learning disabilities is largely because of social injustices separate from schools, not racially biased educators, according to a new study.
The study by Portland State University published in The Sociological Quarter used a statistical method to compare kids with comparable academic levels and socioeconomic status and found that racial minorities are actually less likely than white children to be labeled as having a learning disability, according to a press release from the university.
Dara Shifrer, lead author of the study and sociology professor in the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, believes a student’s socioeconomic status is a strong indicator of academic performance, which is often used to diagnose learning disabilities. Because African-American and Hispanic students are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage compared to white students, they may not perform as well, leading to a learning disabled diagnosis.