TABLE 2-10 1998 Comparison of States with Highest Risk (RI) and Composition (CI) Indices for Black Students in the Category of Mental Retardation

State

RI

CI

White RI for State

Highest RI

Massachusetts

6.28%

29.07%

1.32%

Alabama

5.49%

62.93%

1.80%

Arkansas

5.29%

43.87%

2.06%

Iowa

5.27%

6.14%

3.21%

Indiana

5.01%

23.67%

1.85%

Highest CI

District of Columbia

1.74%

95.07%

.19%

Mississippi

2.27%

78.14%

.66%

South Carolina

4.35%

69.61%

1.41%

Louisiana

2.79%

69.58%

1.13%

has a low composition index because it has relatively few black children in the student body.

Turning to the composition index, the lack of pattern is reinforced. By virtue of its demographics, the District of Columbia has the largest percentage of black students in its school population. Black students make up over 95 percent of all MR placements. However, only 1.7 percent of black students are in that category—far below the national average for blacks. The risk index for whites in the District, however, is only 0.19 percent. While the District places relatively few children of any race in the MR category, the disproportion is very pronounced. The odds of a black student being placed in MR are over nine times those of white students. Looking at the four states with a high composition index for black students, the risk indices run from among the highest (South Carolina) to among the lowest (District of Columbia).

For Hispanic students, the highest risk indices are considerably below those for black students. Three of the states with higher risk indices for Hispanic students have relatively small Hispanic populations, and those with large Hispanic populations (high CI) have risk indices that are near the average. The national averages indicate that fewer Hispanic students than white students are labeled MR. But in all states in Table 2-11, one finds slightly higher risk for Hispanic students than for whites.

While these data give a flavor of the complexity involved in placement patterns, a single year’s data for any state should be considered cautiously. While Alabama and Arkansas have consistently high placement rates for black students in MR, Massachusetts would not have ranked among the



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