Indiana University Bloomington
The Equity Project
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Addressing Disproportionality

Disproportionality may be defined as the over- or under-representation of a group in a category that exceeds our expectations for that group, or differs substantially from the representation of others in that category. Although concerns have historically tended to focus on issues of over-representation in special education or school suspension and expulsion, groups may also be under-represented in a category or setting (e.g., under-representation in general education settings or gifted education).

In school discipline, African American students have consistently been found to be suspended at rates that are two to three times higher than that of other students, and similarly over-represented in office referrals, expulsion and corporal punishment. Although absolute rates of suspension and expulsion are greatest in urban schools and in secondary schools, racial/ethnic disproportionality in discipline seems to be greatest in elementary schools and in suburban locales.

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