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6 Reasons Black Boys Without Disability Wind Up In Special Education

Researchers have found that the ninth-grade year is crucial for Black boys, shaping their future odds of graduating from high school. Of the 4.1 million ninth-graders in the U.S., about 258,000 of them are Black males. Among them, about 23,000 are receiving special education services; more than 37,000 are enrolled in honors classes; and for nearly 46,000, a health care professional or school official has told them that they have at least one disability. If they follow the current pattern, about half of them will not graduate with their current ninth-grade class, and about 20 percent will reach the age of 25 without obtaining a high school diploma or GED.

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It’s Their Behavior, Not a Disability

Many Black boys who end up in special education do not have a disability. Rather, they have circumstances that spur behavior patterns that are not compatible with the school environment, according to researcher Ivory Toldson. This behavior usually can be corrected by changing something about their surroundings. Researchers divide students into five categories: a true negative — children who do not have a disability and have never been diagnosed; a true positive — children who have a disability and have been accurately diagnosed; a false negative — children who have a disability but have never been diagnosed; a false positive — children who do not have a disability but have been diagnosed with one; or have a specific disability and are diagnosed with the wrong one.

What people are saying

8 thoughts on “6 Reasons Black Boys Without Disability Wind Up In Special Education

  1. Thank you Nick for writing this article. Although the numbers are bleak, we must remain hopeful new leadership and strategies will emerge to begin to address the root-causes that give life and longevity to this issue.

  2. Loved it… Informative read

  3. James Harris says:

    I can relate to this all too well.

  4. So the most powerful, intelligent, and likely to succeed and challenge the status quo are deprived of opportunity through cultural misunderstanding and racism. Sounds about right.

  5. I spent 5 years in special education. I was placed there in the 6th grade. That same year, I took a reading test that placed me at a college reading level and an I.Q. test that placed me at 120. Fortunately for me, I have some unbreakable determination. Unfortunately, a lot of Black Boys don't have that, and this system eats our boys alive. It's like, once they get you in that system, there is no way out.

  6. Special education is not meant to be an educational life sentence. When students participate in the educational process they can be dismissed from services. Our students attitude towards education is reflective of their home and lifestyle of parents. Involved parents help and can assist students in making progress. However if they don’t respect their parents or themselves what is the end result. If they don’t participate or are unable to learn instruction then what. Maybe we should start by not teaching them to be black.

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