Teacher perceptions that lead to the referral of Hispanic English language learners to special education

This study developed a survey to determine whether general education teachers in a large urban district were prepared to make referrals of minority students to special education. Considering the impact of student-teacher relationships have on minority students being referred to special education, increased knowledge on how to improve student-teacher cultural awareness is a vital part of improving education. Nineteen certified teachers (17 women and 2 men) participated in this study. The central findings of the present study suggest that certificated teachers have been taught the SST purpose, process and operation through their teacher training. A significant difference was identified between White and minority teachers in terms of their training in cultural differences, cultural awareness, and specific guidelines regarding the learning behaviors of minority students in making referrals to special education. Minority teachers were more likely to agree that they received training that addressed how cultural awareness can affect students learning. The results of this study suggest a need for expanded teacher education regarding cultural differences and awareness of culturally linguistically diverse learners. Teacher preparation through coursework and site trainings in order to understand culturally linguistically diverse learners seems to contribute to making appropriate referrals. These courses and trainings appear to play a vital role in preparing teachers to identify students for the SST process. Key Words: Minority Students; Special Education Overrepresentation; Referrals; Student Study Team