In this article, Jacob Hibel, Susan Faircloth, and George Farkas investigate the persistent finding that American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students are overrepresented in special education. Using data from the kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the authors compare the third-grade special education placement rate of AI/AN students to that of other racial/ethnic groups. They find that approximately 15 percent of AI/AN third-graders received special education services, a rate far higher than that of the other racial and ethnic groups. However,using multilevel regression analysis to control for a number of confounding factors,including socioeconomic status and test scores at school entry, they find no statistically significant difference between the special education placement rates of AI/AN and non-Hispanic white students. Controlling for a range of school characteristics,they also find that schools with a higher proportion of AI/AN students place these students in special education at rates similar to those of other schools in the United States. The authors conclude that the strongest predictor of special education placement is a student's academic readiness on entering kindergarten as measured by the student's pre-reading and pre-mathematics scores. They discuss the implications of these findings for future research and practice in the education of AI/AN students.

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