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Seven Questions Every Parent Should Ask about Disproportionality

Parents, caregivers, and community members, working with their local schools, should ensure that students who are culturally and linguistically diverse receive an excellent and appropriate education.

The following questions are designed to help parents and others address disproportionality -- the over- and underrepresentation of culturally and linguistically diverse children (CLD) in special education and gifted and/or talented programs.

  1. To what extent are quality early childhood services available in your community?

  2. How culturally appropriate is the curriculum?  What guidelines are used to ensure that assessments are culturally responsive?

  3. What types of early intervening services, programs, and supports are available in your school or district?  Are they available to all students who need them?

  4. To what extent are the school discipline policies responsive to cultural differences?  To what extent are data on the incidence and durations of disciplinary actions (such as suspensions and expulsions) disaggregated by race or ethnicity?

  5. What professional development programs are available to assist teachers with developing culturally responsive teaching strategies and classroom management skills?

  6. How are parents, educators, and community leaders able to become productively engaged in your district's or school's plan to address disproportionality?

  7. To what extent are the resources and supports for addressing disproportionality sufficiently funded?


NEA's guide, Truth in Labeling,  provides basic information about disproportionality -- what it is, what causes it, and what the implications are for students, schools, and the community. The guide offers recommendations on addressing disproportionality at the classroom, school, and community levels.