Subject Area



Racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education has long been a topic of education research and has in recent years become part of the public discourse on educational equity. However, diverging research results have left researchers, policymakers, and educators without a clear understanding of whether disproportionality exists, for whom, and in which contexts. My study provides an in-depth analysis of the racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education service receipt in one urban Texas school district for the school years 2015-16 through 2021-22. Multiple modes of analysis are used, including risk ratios, odds ratios, linear probability models, and logistic regression. Results indicate that Black students were slightly overrepresented and Hispanic students were slightly underrepresented in the district, regardless of student gender, economic disadvantage, and native language, as well as the time-invariant characteristics of schools and cohorts. Compared to their non-Hispanic peers, Hispanic students were underrepresented in schools with a higher percentage of Hispanic students. In contrast, Black students were not more or less likely than other students to receive special education services depending on the percentage of Black students in the school. Additionally, the likelihood of special education service receipt increased each year for both Hispanic and Black students, mirroring state and national trends. The difference between special education likelihood for Hispanic and non-Hispanic students, as well as between Black and non-Black students, decreased over time. I discuss the implications of these findings and the future research needed to further understand the relation between student race/ethnicity and special education service receipt.

Degree Date

Fall 12-16-2023

Document Type


Degree Name



Teaching and Learning


Meredith Richards

Second Advisor

Dominique Baker

Number of Pages




Available for download on Monday, December 11, 2028