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Family FAQ about Significant Disproportionality


In 2019-20, the California Department of Education identified Alameda Unified School District as one of 132 districts across the state showing “significant disproportionality.” Specifically, for three years in a row, African-American students in AUSD have been identified as children with disabilities and, specifically,  with certain kinds of disabilities, at a higher rate than their peers of their peers of other races.

Because of this pattern of significant disproportionality, the CDE has mandated that AUSD:

  • Develop and submit a Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CCEIS) Plan 

  • Convene a CCEIS Stakeholder Team

  • Develop a Special Education Plan addressing these concerns and coordinating with the AUSD Special Education Plan already in place 

What is "disproportionality?"

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) requires states and local education agencies (school districts) to take steps to address disproportionate representation of a particular racial or ethnic group in one of four areas when it occurs for one year:

  1. special education in general;

  2. special education within a specific disability category; 

  3. disciplinary action; or

  4. more restrictive environments

As of 2017, more than 900 districts in California had disproportionality.

To learn more about disproportionality, view the brief elearning module, Introduction to Disproportionality.  In addition, the resources found on the SPP-TAP website can help you understand disproportionality. (Please note that these resources are designed to help California school districts understand disproportionality and develop a systemic approach needed to address it. Of special interest is the cultural lens used to examine the practices, policies, and beliefs that contribute to disproportionality.

What is significant "disproportionality?"

“Significant disproportionality” occurs when for three years students of a particular race or ethnicity are:

  • Identified as children with disabilities, 

  • Identified with a particular disability category, 

  • Placed in a particular educational setting (e.g., separate classroom), or

  • Suspended/expelled as a disciplinary measure at a higher rate than their peers of other races. 

Put another way, while disproportionately refers to over-representation for one year, significant disproportionately refers to over-representation for three consecutive years.

Section 618(d) of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)requires states to annually examine whether such disproportionality exists in their school districts. 

How does AUSD have significant disproportionality?

The areas qualified for significant disproportionality are in two special education disability categories (of a possible 21): Other Health Impaired/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (OHI/ADHD) and Intellectual Disability (ID).  

In the area of OHI/ADHD, African American students were more likely than their other race/ethnicity peers to be identified by a risk ratio of 3.29, with 3.0 being the indicator of significant disproportionality. 

For the category of Intellectual Disability,  African American students were identified with a risk ratio of 3.29.

What causes significant disproportionality?

The fact that certain races and ethnicities identified as needing special education and/or discipline at higher rates than their white peers has been an issue of state and national concern for decades. These patterns of disproportionality have been found in students in grades K through 12 and in students as young as preschool. 

  • Ongoing research has identified a number of factors that contribute to disproportionality,including:

  • Personal and institutional beliefs about cultural characteristics of students and families

  • Policies that rely on subjective assessments of student behavior

  • Practices and procedures that result in students being categorized and consequenced rather than supported and coached

What is the impact of significant disproportionately?

The long-term impacts can include: lost instructional days; reduced access to rigorous curriculum, lower academic achievement, lower graduation rates, higher drop out rates, emotional and social issues, stigmatizatation, and fewer opportunities for post-secondary academic and career opportunities.


What is a Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services Plan (CCEIS)?  

A CCEIS plan identifies services and supports in general education to help students who need additional academic or behavioral aid in order  to be successful in school. These supports are made available prior to a student’s assessment for a disability and are meant to benefit any struggling student, and in particular African-American students, who are most affected.  CCEIS supports may include professional development, educational and behavioral evaluations, and interventions.

The CDE has mandated that AUSD address our significant disproportionality by devising activities and creating a plan that includes ongoing progress monitoring. This year, AUSD will defer 15 percent of the federal special education funds it receives to the general education budget implement activities designed to prevent a  student from being referred to an assessment for disability.

This CCEIS plan is due to CDE on December 15, 2020.  

What is the CCEIS Stakeholder Team?  

The CCEIS Stakeholder Team will:

  • Review the root causes of significant disproportionality based on qualitative and quantitative data

  • Prioritize the foundational issues and trends exhibited in the data and 

  • Work collaboratively in whole and small groups to identify activities that can disrupt disproportionate outcomes for African-American students

  • Collect data to monitor progress among African-American students

  • Identify the modifications needed to guarantee student success

How can I participate in the CCEIS Stakeholder Team? 

AUSD is committed to convening a diverse team that represents our African American community. The team will include parents/guardians of students currently enrolled in AUSD, teacher-leaders, site administration, district-level leaders, and the larger community. 

To apply to be on the team, please fill out this survey Interest in Participation in the CEIS/SEP Stakeholder Team by 9/25/20. The selection process will prioritize stakeholders who best represent the interests of African American students most affected by disproportionality in our district. 

What is the Special Education Plan? 

This plan focuses primarily on addressing a student’s referral for assessment of disability and special education, as well as a district’s assessment practices, assessment tools, and administration. The SEP focuses on the processes and practices that lead to a student’s assessment of disability. This may include investigating: 

  • Teachers’ referrals of students to school site Coordination of Services Teams (COST)

  • COST outcomes

  • SST outcomes

  • Parents’ requests for assessments of disability, 

  • Assessment tools  

  • Qualifying features of disability for special education

The Special Education Plan is due to the Northern California Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) on December 1, 2020.