Disproportionate representation occurs when the percentage of an identified group enrolled in special education varies significantly from that group’s overall percentage of the school population (Harry, 1994). Response to Intervention (RTI), a paradigm for educational intervention, is designed to minimize many factors contributing to disproportionality. The study examined disproportionality risk ratios for African American students, ages 6 through 21, who received special education services in a southeastern state supporting the RTI initiative during the 2006-2009 school years. Data suggest that African American students identified with a specific learning disability experienced increased referral and placement in special education in the three years corresponding to the initial RTI implementation efforts. Definitive conclusions about the fidelity of RTI implementation or effectiveness of intervention are beyond the scope of the current study, but disproportionality findings may be used as a comparative baseline for future research.

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