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Teachers' characteristics: Understanding the decision to refer for special education placement

Dissertation
Author: Deborah Z. Hauck
Abstract:
This mixed method study examined elementary teachers' characteristics (efficacy, tolerance, and demographics) and their influences on the decision to refer African American students to special education. A stratified purposeful sample of 115 elementary teachers for the quantitative segment and a subsample of 13 teachers for the qualitative portion will provide needed insight on the disproportionate problem from a teachers' perspective. Data collections consisted of administering three quantitative instruments to certified general education teachers: the Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES; Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990), the Teacher Tolerance Scale (TTS; Safran & Safran, 1984) and a demographic background information survey and semi-structured face to face interview guide for the qualitative segment. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed on the quantitative data collected while the qualitative data analysis was conducted by using computerized system of qualitative data analysis, ATLAS/ti. The results found statistical significant difference between teachers' race and the referral rate of African American students for special education.

v Table of Contents Acknowledgments.............................................................................................................. iv CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1 Introduction to the Problem .................................................................................... 1 Statement of the Problem ........................................................................................ 4 Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................... 4 Research Questions and Hypotheses ...................................................................... 5 Significance of the Study ........................................................................................ 6 Research Design...................................................................................................... 8 Definition of Terms............................................................................................... 10 Assumptions and Limitations ............................................................................... 12 Limitations ............................................................................................................ 12 Theoretical/Conceptual Framework ...................................................................... 12 Search Criteria ...................................................................................................... 18 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................... 20 Review of Research Literature and Methodological Literature ............................ 21 Methodological Literature .................................................................................... 35 Synthesis of Research Findings ............................................................................ 37 Critique of Previous Research .............................................................................. 40 Summary ............................................................................................................... 50 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY .................................................................................... 52 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 52 Purposes of the Study............................................................................................ 52

vi Research Design.................................................................................................... 53 Target Population and Participant Selection ......................................................... 53 Procedures ............................................................................................................. 56 Instruments ............................................................................................................ 59 Research Questions and Hypotheses .................................................................... 64 Data Analyses ....................................................................................................... 65 Ethical Issues ........................................................................................................ 67 Expected Findings ................................................................................................. 69 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS .................................................................................................. 70 Preliminary Analyses ............................................................................................ 71 Research Question 1 ............................................................................................. 81 Research Question 2 ............................................................................................. 86 Research Question 3 ............................................................................................. 86 Research Question 4 ............................................................................................. 86 Research Question 5 ............................................................................................. 87 Summary of Findings .......................................................................................... 100 CHAPTER 5: RESULTS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................. 103 Overview ............................................................................................................. 103 Summary ............................................................................................................. 103 Results ................................................................................................................. 108 Discussion ........................................................................................................... 109

vii Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 116 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 119 APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................................................. 136 APPENDIX B: ROUND TWO INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE ............................. 137 APPENDIX C: FINAL ROUND REVISED INTERVIEW QUESTION GUIDE ........ 138

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Introduction to the Problem For every 100 Caucasian students referred to special education, there are 132 African American and 106 Hispanic students that are also referred (U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs [OSEP], 2001). To fully understand the magnitude of the above - mentioned statistics, one must consider the percentage of African American students that make up the nation’s school population as compared to the number of African American students placed in special education. A larger number of African American students are served in special education than would be expected given the percentage of African American students in the nation’s school population. African American students comprise 15% of the total nation’s school population while 26% are placed in special education (Artiles & Trent, 1994). OSEP (2001) reported that African American students make up a larger proportion of students served under the Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) than any other ethnic group. Out of the five largest disability categories, specific- learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, and other health impairments, African American students have been found to be placed in the most restrictive and stigmatized categories, emotional disturbance and mental retardation (OSEP, 2001). To illustrate, African American students are the highest reported population classified as emotional behavioral disturbance (11.3%) and are the second most frequently reported population in the disability category of mental retardation (17.4%).

2 This disproportionate representation of minority students in special education was first cited by Dunn (1968) in one of the earliest and well recognized published articles that served as a catalyst to generate additional research investigating disproportionate representation phenomenon. Dunn’s (1968) article identified students served in special education as those from low socioeconomic households, non-middle class demographics, minority, and English as secondary language students. Dunn’s (1968) findings have generated a large body of research investigating the overrepresentation of minority students in special education (Artiles & Harry, 2006; Artiles & Trent, 1994; Chinn & Hughes, 1987; Coutinho & Oswald, 2000; Farkas, 2003; Gottlieb & Polirstok, 2005; Hosp & Reschly, 2004; Mattern, Serna, Forness, & Nielson, 2002; Mickelson, 2003; Ryan, Reid & Epstein, 2004; Singh, Ellis, Oswald, Wechsler, & Curtis, 1997; ). The referral and placement rate of African American students to special education is startling with a 200% increase within the past 30 years (Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, & Hickman, 2003). Artiles and Trent (1994), Mehan, Hertweck, and Miehls (1986), and Ysseldyke and Algozzine (1983) found the referral process as one of the most important facets in future placement in special education. Research indicates that the majority of students referred for special education are tested (92%) and out of the number of students tested, 73% are placed in special education (Algozzine, Ysseldyke, & Christenson, 1983). Algozzine et al.’s (1983) findings suggest that regular education teachers’ decision to refer as a significant predictor for future placement in special education. Furthermore, Pugach (1985) emphasized the importance of a general education teacher’s decision to refer for placement in special education as a crucial piece in the referral to placement process.

3 Undoubtedly, the number of decades that researchers have been reporting the overrepresentation of African American students in special education without resolution is alarming. As African American students continue to be disproportionately represented in special education, the need to answer the disproportional problem of overrepresentation of minority students in special education is crucial. After conducting the review of literature on the factors influencing teachers’ decisions to refer students to special education, researchers found that often the decision to refer is based on teachers’ characteristics (age, gender, years of teaching, teacher efficacy, and teacher tolerance) rather than students’ characteristics (Gerber & Semmel, 1984; Pugach, 1985). Previous research examining the relationship between teachers’ characteristics and the referral rate of African American students to special education has been inconclusive. However, researchers have recognized the significance in defining and understanding the constructs, teacher efficacy (Aston & Webb, 1986) and teacher tolerance (Gerber & Semmel, 1984), as they relate to the referral rate to special education. Armor et al., (1976) and Berman and McLaughlin’s (1977) studies were the first to conceptualize the construct, teacher efficacy. These researchers described teacher efficacy as the belief of teachers that they can facilitate the academic success of even the most difficult to teach and unmotivated student. Gibson and Dembo (1984) later went on to identify teacher efficacy as a variable that explains the differences in teachers’ effectiveness. In addition, teacher tolerance has been characterized as the summarization of the interaction of the target student, teacher, and peers’ characteristics that develops a perceived range which a teacher determines if a student is teachable (Gerber & Semmel, 1984). Shinn, Tindal, and

4 Spiral (1987) further defined teacher tolerance as the degree which a teacher perceives a student benefiting from their instruction. Without question, the factors influencing teachers’ decision to refer is complex and multifaceted. Studies examining factors influencing African American teachers’ decision to refer students to special education are limited, therefore leaving a gap in the understanding of the relationship between teachers’ characteristics and the decision to refer to special education. Statement of the Problem Teachers’ characteristics may inadvertently contribute to the disproportionate rates of referral of African American students to special education. Given the significance that the teacher’s decision has on the referral to placement process and therefore on the problem of overrepresentation of African American students in special education, teachers’ characteristics that influence the decision to refer are crucial and relevant factors in need of investigation. By identifying, examining, and exploring the significance of the relationship between Caucasian and African American teachers’ characteristics and the decision to refer students to special education, these factors can be addressed in the development of objective referral methods and culturally sensitive screening assessments. Thus, the problem addressed in this study is the effects of teacher characteristics on the disproportionate rates of special education referral for African American students. Purpose of the Study The purposes of this concurrent mixed methods study are to (a) determine if teachers’ gender, age, or years teaching are related to the special education referral rate for African American students ; (b) determine if teachers’ efficacy is related to the special

5 education referral rate for African American students ; (c) determine if teachers’ tolerance is related to the special education referral rate for African American students; and (d) determine if there is an interaction between teachers’ efficacy and tolerance in terms of their special education referral rate for African American students. Research Questions and Hypotheses This study provided an in-depth understanding of factors that influence the teacher’s decision to refer students for evaluation and placement to special education. The researcher’s experience with teachers who referred students for special education evaluation, teaching students in special education, counseling experience, readings, and cultural and diverse life experiences, along with the purpose of this study, shaped the development of the above research questions. Purposely, the following research questions and hypotheses guided this study: Research Question 1: Are teachers’ gender, race, age, or years teaching, related to the special education referral rate for African American students?

Research Question 2: Is teachers’ efficacy related to the special education referral rate for African American students?

Research Question 3: Is teachers’ tolerance related to the special education referral rate for African American students?

Research question 4: What interaction, if any, exists between teachers’ efficacy and tolerance and their special education referral rate for African American students?

Research question 5: How do teachers describe their tolerance, efficacy, and their decision to refer African American students to special education?

6 For the first research question, there are four null hypotheses:

Ho1: There is no relationship between teachers’ race and the special education referral rate for African American students.

Ho2: There is no relationship between teachers’ gender and the special education referral rate for African American students.

Ho3: There is no relationship between teachers’ age and the special education referral rate for African American students.

Ho4: There is no relationship between teachers’ years of teaching and the special education referral rate for African American students.

For the second research question, there is one null hypothesis:

Ho5: There is no relationship between teachers’ efficacy and the special education referral rate for African American students.

The third research question has one corresponding null hypothesis:

Ho6: There is no relationship between teachers’ tolerance and the special education referral rate for African American students.

Finally, the fourth research question has one associated null hypothesis:

Ho7: There is no interaction between teachers’ efficacy and tolerance in the prediction of the special education referral rate for African American students.

Significance of the Study The significance of this study begins with the assumption that many intricate variables contribute to the overrepresentation of African American students in special education, variables which are yet to be understood but must be understood in order to affect social change. Consequently, the impact of this phenomenon continues to generate pessimistic outcomes for African American students in special education. The adverse outcomes associated with African American students’ placement in special education has

7 the potential to affect this population academically, psychologically, socially, from a micro level to eventually a macro level that extends in every segment of society. For example, African American students classified as emotional behavioral disturbance, EBD: (a) make up 77% of the incarcerated individuals in the juvenile justice system; (b) have the lowest (36.5%) graduation rate; (c) have the second highest dropout rate; (d) have increase substance abuse; (e) have increased unemployment rates; and (f) have increased criminal involvement (Granello & Hanna, 2003; OSEP, 2001). As a result, the prognosis for African American students classified as EBD continues to be grim. However, researchers have been called upon to explore effective solutions to the disproportionate representation of African American students in special education by the Federal government; prompting researchers, educators, and practitioners to provide better life outcomes (Lane, Carter, Pierson & Glaeser, 2006). This study was designed to identify, examine, and explore the variables that influence the decision to refer. The researcher hoped that by understanding the extent of the relationship between Caucasian and African American teachers’ characteristics (demographics [age, gender, and years of teaching], teacher efficacy and tolerance) and both Caucasian and African American teachers’ decision to refer, would lead to discovering solutions to this problem. Identifying and understanding these variables and their influence on the decision to refer could be the springboard for effective change and reform. The knowledge that was obtained from this study could be used as a foundation for the development of an equitable referral process, improved pre-service staff development, revision of teachers’ education programs, and ultimately resolve the overrepresentation of African American students in special education. The urgent need for research investigating this problem will

8 provide a more elaborate perspective of overrepresentation of African American students and assist practitioners in developing effective intervention. Research Design A pragmatic, mixed methods design was used that included concurrent collections of both quantitative and qualitative data. The collection of both quantitative and qualitative data offered this researcher with diverse data types, which provided a better understanding of the research problem. The quantitative data can assist in focusing on the deduction, (testing of theories and hypotheses), explanation, and statistical analysis. In addition, the qualitative data can assist in focusing on the inductive logic, interpretation, and enhance the understanding of a phenomenon (Mertens, 2005; Neuman, 2003). A pragmatic paradigm allowed for the investigation of the problem, disproportionate representation, which is of interest to the researcher. This researcher ascribes to the philosophy that the research question determines the research method and that purity in a single research method limits the understanding of a phenomenon. Creswell (2003) purports pragmatists advocate for the integration of methods within the same study. This mixed methods study provided an in-depth analysis of the relationship between Caucasian and African American teachers’ characteristics (demographics, efficacy and tolerance) and disproportionate rate of referral of African American students in special education. This study design integrates statistical information with the views of the participants to provide a holistic investigation of the teacher’s decision to refer. The sample selection was purposely selected from one school district in urban South Carolina. This school district is comprised of both African and Caucasian American teachers and

9 students. In addition, a stratified purposeful subsample of Caucasian and African American elementary teachers participated in qualitative interviews. Data Collection Methods In this study, the Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES), developed by Woolfolk and Hoy (1990) and the Teacher Tolerance Scale (TTS) developed by Safran and Safran (1984) were used to measure teachers’ characteristics (efficacy and tolerance). Demographic and background variables, as well as special education referral rates, were assessed using the demographic and background survey. At the same time, the aspects of the disproportionate representation of African American students in special education was explored using face-to-face interviews with a small sample of certified general education teachers at four southeastern urban elementary schools, located within this district in Columbia, South Carolina. Data was collected simultaneously with a small lag time. To obtain maximum exposure to participants, data collections was conducted during mandatory teachers’ in-service days. Data Analysis, Procedures, and Presentation Method Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, 2007) and ATLAS/ti (ATLAS.ti Scientific Software Development GmbH, 2008) programs was used to analyze and interpret all data collected for this study. The collection of both quantitative and qualitative data is displayed using inferential and descriptive analysis procedures. Quantitative data was analyzed by employing inferential and descriptive analysis of the data; this was accomplished by using logistic regression procedures. The dependent variable in the research questions is the special education referral rate for African American students, which will be described in Chapter 3. The primary analytic

10 techniques were descriptive statistics and multiple regression for the quantitative data, and content analysis for the qualitative data. Content analysis was used as a significant tool in identifying and examining trends by coding and categorizing the data found in the qualitative facet of this study (Mertens, 2005). Definition of Terms The following terms are defined for the purpose of this study: African American - an ethnic group whom historically been identified as Colored, Negro, Black, or Afro-American. African American is the most current and widely used terminology to identify individuals whom have both African and American ancestral background (Coontz, Parson, & Raley, 1999). Caucasian – light-complexioned people indigenous to, or descended from Europe, northern Africa, southwest Asia, and the Indian subcontinent (U. S. Legal Definition, 1996). General Education Teacher - a teacher that teaches the core subjects (math, English Language Art, science and social studies) and holds a South Carolina teaching certification. Disproportionate Representation – the extent to which students with particular characteristics (race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, age and language background) are placed in a specific type of education program or provided access to services, resources, curriculum, and instructional and classroom management (Salend, Garrick Duhaney, 2005; Salend, Garrick Duhaney, & Montgomery, 2002). EBD - Emotionally Behavioral Disorder is a facet of many mental disorders that are characterized with inadequate/inappropriate social, academic functioning that is

11 normally substantially below that given person’s chronological age and age appropriate behaviors and education with no biological causation (Kauffman, 2005). Minority - a sociological group that may include ethnic minority (culture, language, and religion) or individuals with disabilities that may be disadvantaged in regard to education, social status, wealth, political power, and employment. Minority group does not make up the politically dominate plurality of the total population of a given society (Cusher, McCelland, & Safford, 2003). Overrepresentation - The percentage of students from a specific group is higher than their prevalence in the general population of students (Salend & Duhaney, 2005). Referral - a mechanism used by school personnel to request and obtains comprehensive and formal evaluation results to determine whether a student qualifies for special education services (Turnbull & Turnbull, 1997). Referral bias - is the inappropriate preconceived perception of a particular racial ethnic group and/or gender that influences the referral decision for special education evaluation. Special education program - especially designed instruction, at no cost to the guardian or parent, to meet the unique needs of children with special needs, including classroom instruction, instruction in physical education, home instruction, instruction in hospitals, and institutions (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. & 1418 d.1.) Teacher efficacy - the outcome of cognitive processes in which teachers construct beliefs in their capability to influence a desirable outcome for student (Aston & Webb, 1986; Bandura, 1997).

12 Teacher referral - a request from a teacher to the chairperson of the school’s committee to meet on a student for possible identification, evaluation, and placement in to special education (VanDerHeyden, Witt, & Naquin, 2003). Teacher tolerance - the level of unacceptable behavior that a teacher views a student to be teachable or non- teachable (Gerber & Semmel, 1984). Assumptions and Limitations This researcher accepts the assumptions: (a) all subjects are capable of comprehending the questions asked in the instruments, (b) all subjects will respond to the questions asked in the instruments in a honest and forthcoming manner, (c) African American participants have a better understanding of the African American culture than non-African American participants, and (d) the results of the statistical analysis will provide information sufficient to answer the research questions. Limitations The following includes a list of limitations that were recognized by the researcher. These limitations may impact the generalizability of the results of this study. The limitations are: (a) the subjects used in this study come from the Southeastern United States only and do not represent the variability of the Nation’s school systems and (b) the subjects used in this study will come from four different elementary schools within the one aforementioned school district. Theoretical/Conceptual Framework Different theories have been advanced to explain the nature of the relationship between the variables; academics, socioeconomic status, demographics, and the disproportionate representation of African American males in special education. Theories

13 such as grounded theory (McMillan & Schumancher, 2001), theory of compromised human development (O’Conner & Fernandez, 2006), and social identity theory (Hewstone, Rubin, & Willis, 2002) have been used in previous studies to examine the overrepresentation of African American males in special education. This study employed Bandura’s self- efficacy theory (SET) and Bell’s critical race theory (CRT) as the basis for examination of the variables, Caucasian and African American teachers’ characteristics (efficacy and tolerance) and the referral rate of African American students to special education. For the purpose of this study, SET and CRT allowed this researcher to distinguish the relationships of variables in this study in a quantified method. This researcher employed the use of SET and CRT to examine teachers’ beliefs and if these same teachers’ beliefs affect the outcome their behavior. Self Efficacy Theoretical Framework SET was initially developed by Albert Bandura (1977), who proposed that efficacy beliefs play a significant facet shaping one’s life course. Bandura purports that the action of a person is determined by the confidence an individual has that a behavior will lead to certain outcomes, as well as the confidence of their ability to perform a specific behavior. Bandura (1986) defines self-efficacy as outcome expectancy and self expectancy. Outcome expectancy can be viewed as the perceived results one expects to happen. Self expectancy refers to the belief one has in themselves to complete a specific task. Self-efficacy has been defined as individuals’ beliefs about their capabilities to produce specific levels of performance that influences events that affect individuals’ lives (Bandura, 1994, 2000).

14 Pajares (2003) suggest efficacy beliefs of teachers are related to teachers’ instructional practices and to various students’ outcomes. For example, teachers who lack confidence in their abilities have a propensity to hold an orientation that takes a negative perception of students' motivation, emphasizes stern management of classroom behavior, and relies on extrinsic incentives and negative sanctions to get students to perform (Pajares, 2003). SET was the theoretical foundation of this study. Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory of human functioning emphasizes the critical role of self-beliefs in four major human processes: (a) cognitive process - the acquisition, organization, and the use of information; (b) motivational process - the degree of intensity and persistence of effort; (c) affective and regulation of emotional states; and (d) selections processes - influence over one's own motivation, thought processes, emotional states, and patterns of behavior. Self-efficacy theory is comprised of two tenets, teachers’ self efficacy (TSE) and personal self-efficacy (PSE). Teachers’ self-efficacy has been found to be related to (a) instructional practices, (b) classroom management strategies, and (c) influence thoughts about students and affect student outcomes (Ashton & Webb, 1986). In addition, the majority of the research investigating teachers’ efficacy was generated by Bandura’s (1977) SET. Consequently, efficacy as a factor may have the propensity to influence the decision to refer for special education placement. Methods of Self Efficacy Theory SET (1977) allowed the researcher to examine quantified data and established if a significant relationship exists between variables and subsequently affects the outcome of a behavior (Bandura, 1977). The purpose of SET is to examine if one’s beliefs affect the

15 outcome or results of one’s behavior (Pajares, 2000). Measuring self efficacy has been accomplished by the use of the Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES) developed by Gibson and Dembo (1984) and revised by Woolfolk and Hoy (1990). For instance, Meijer and Foster (1988) conducted the first study to examine the variables teachers’ efficacy and the referral process for placement in special education. These researchers used Bandura’s concepts to better understand the effects of the relationship with teachers’ efficacy and the referral process for special education placement. The SET was the framework of Meijer and Foster’s (1988) study using a correlational quantitative research method to objectively determine if a significant relationship existed between the variables self efficacy and the referral for special education placement. The researchers found the higher the teachers’ self efficacy the lower the referral rate to special education (Meijer & Foster, 1988). Soodak and Podell’s (1993) study conducted in the United States further the investigation of teacher’s efficacy as a variable influencing the referral rate in special education. The results of this study, Soodak and Podell (1993), were consistent with the results found in the Netherland study conducted by Meijer and Foster (1988); in that, a significant relationship was found between the variables. Self-efficacy assessments are used to identify the types of events in which individuals express confidence or a lack of confidence in their efficacy (Bandura, 2007). Findings resulting from this SET framework can provide significant data that can contribute to education research in the various areas and across all settings. Although this research cannot specifically demonstrates a causal link between disproportionate representation of minority students in special education and teachers’ characteristics efficacy and tolerance), one assumption is that disproportionate referrals of minority

16 students may emanate from the teacher’s characteristic, efficacy (Klassen & Lynch, 2007). Therefore, Bandura’s SET is the primary theoretical framework for this mixed methods study examining efficacy as a teacher’s characteristic that influences the decision to refer. Critical Race Theoretical Framework Critical Race Theory (CRT) challenges the traditional educational paradigms, methods, texts, and separate discourse of race, gender, and class by showing how these variables intersect to affect students of color (Gillborn, 2006; Lynn & Parker, 2006; Soloranzo, 1997; Soloranzo & Ornelas, 2002; Soloranzo & Ornelas, 2004). The use of CRT as an additional theory to analyze the qualitative data provides this study with an analytic approach to investigating and analyzing the role of race and racism (intentional or unintentional) in the disproportionate phenomenon. From a CRT perspective, epistemology looks at only one reality and how the method of knowing this reality is acquired. CRT views the inequalities in education as a reality that is embedded within all aspects of the public school system; policies, procedures, teacher training, assessments, and curriculum pedagogies. According to CRT, the overlapping influences of racism in education and the role of race in education promote inequality in the nation’s schools (Delgado & Stephancic, 2001; Dixson & Rousseau, 2005; Soloranzo, 1997). CRT has been used by researchers including; (a) Ladson-Billings’(1998) study to understand the purpose, procedures, and the effects of teachers’ education programs; (b) Solorzano and Bernal’s (2001) study to explain forms of resistance; and (c) Lynn’s (2006) study which analyzed the work of African American teachers in education. Literature on CRT in education has used a

17 critical race methodology which primarily focuses on the narratives and experiences of minority students and not on minority teachers to provide an understanding of racism in the nation’s schools setting (Dixson & Rousseau, 2005). Unfortunately, the research employing this CRT to education research is scarce (Dixson & Rousseau, 2005). However, this study applied the CRT as an additional theory to analyze and critique the results of the qualitative data of this mixed methods study. Although this research cannot specifically demonstrate a causal link between overrepresentation of African American males in special education, teachers’ characteristics (demographics [ age, gender, and years of experience] teacher efficacy and tolerance); one assumption is that disproportionate rate of referrals regarding African American male students may emanate from preconceived conscious or unconscious racism by professionals in education. The problem investigated by this researcher is based on disparities found within the education system and its methods of referral for special education. The primary premise of CRT is to enhance the understanding of racism as endemic to Americans’ life and to eradicate forms of oppression (Stovall, 2005). Lynn, Benigno, Williams, Park and Mitchell, (2006) recommended for future research the application of CRT as an analytical tool in education research in order to find a solution to the inequality in education. Thus, CRT application in this study will further explain the relationship between teachers’ characteristics (efficacy and tolerance) on the decision to refer African American males for evaluation to special education and provide a vehicle for change.

18 Expected Outcomes Through this study, the following are possible findings: (a) a negative relationship exists between African American teachers’ efficacy and the referral rate of African American students, (b) significant interaction exists between African American teacher’s efficacy, tolerance, and the referral rate of African American students, (c) a negative correlation exist between teachers’ tolerance and the referral rate of African American students , and (d) a significant relationship exist between teacher’s age, gender, years of teaching, and the referral rate of African American students. Although past research findings do not provide strong statistical causal relationship between the variables; teacher’s efficacy (Acker, 2006; Meijer & Foster, 1988; Soodak & Podell, 1994; Taimalu & Oims, 2005) and tolerance (Cramer, 2002; Hosp & Reschly, 2003) and demographics [age, gender, and years of experience demographics] (Johnson & Fullwood, 2006; Maas, 2000) and the referral rate of African American students in special education, researchers suggest the examination of these variables in future studies. Search Criteria This section of the chapter will briefly discuss the search process, data bases and key words used in investigating the overrepresentation of African American students in special education. The PsycLIT, PsychINFO, ERIC, and Dissertation Abstracts electronic databases were searched for published and unpublished studies that examined disproportionate representation of minority students. The reference sections of relevant articles were searched for other studies that would be relevant to this review. This search process continued until the field of research had been exhausted and no new studies were revealed.

Full document contains 145 pages
Abstract: This mixed method study examined elementary teachers' characteristics (efficacy, tolerance, and demographics) and their influences on the decision to refer African American students to special education. A stratified purposeful sample of 115 elementary teachers for the quantitative segment and a subsample of 13 teachers for the qualitative portion will provide needed insight on the disproportionate problem from a teachers' perspective. Data collections consisted of administering three quantitative instruments to certified general education teachers: the Teacher Efficacy Scale (TES; Woolfolk & Hoy, 1990), the Teacher Tolerance Scale (TTS; Safran & Safran, 1984) and a demographic background information survey and semi-structured face to face interview guide for the qualitative segment. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed on the quantitative data collected while the qualitative data analysis was conducted by using computerized system of qualitative data analysis, ATLAS/ti. The results found statistical significant difference between teachers' race and the referral rate of African American students for special education.