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Improving Educational Opportunities: Abt Associates Continues Work Examining Relationship Between Income Status and Placement of Students with Disabilities

Through a Spencer Foundation grant, Abt will continue to look at the relationship between students' income status and educational placement.
Through a Spencer Foundation grant, Abt will continue to look at the relationship between students’ income status and educational placement. Recent research which looked at the identification, placement, and academic performance of students with disabilities in Massachusetts found that the likelihood of low-income students being identified as requiring special education, and thusly receiving separate placement was substantially higher than that of non-low-income students. 
 
Under a new grant from the Spencer Foundation, Abt Associates’ Dr. Todd Grindal, Harvard University’s Dr. Thomas Hehir, and others, will expand upon this research by examining the relationships between income status and the identification and placement patterns of students with disabilities across four to six states. 
 
“By looking at a data from a larger number of states, we’ll be able to better understand potential patterns of disproportionality among special education students, and how and where they’re placed,” said Grindal.  “All students should be able to learn in the least restrictive environment possible, and our study holds the promise of giving policymakers the information they need to improve educational opportunities for low-income students.”
 
Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to report each year special education identification and educational placement, and identify school districts with considerable race-based disproportionality.  Income status is not considered when determining disproportionality.
 
Dr. Hehir, the Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at Harvard University, will serve as Principal Investigator under the Spencer Foundation grant; Dr. Grindal is co-Principal Investigator.
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