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Classifying Plenty Retarded Students: A Review of Placement Practices In Specie Education WILLIAM E. BICKEL INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to describe what is currently known about placement processes in special education since the enactment of the Edu- cation for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-1421. Particular emphasis is on the relationship of these processes to the disproportionate representation of minorities in programs for educable mentally retarded (EMR) students. The paper is divided into six major sections. The first section describes several models of placement that have been offered by education theorists and professionals. The second section gives an over- view of empirical research with a discussion of referral and screening pro- cesses. Sections three, four, and five review empirical research in the areas of evaluation, individual education plans and least restrictive environ- ments, and parental involvement and due process procedures. The con- cluding section summarizes major trends in the empirical research on placement and minority representation in special education. The focus of the paper is broad, and several limitations are in order to make the task more manageable. First, testing issues related to minority This paper has benefited from the comments of a number of my colleagues. I would particu- larly like to thank Jack Birch, William Cooley, Alonzo Crim, Gaea Leinhardt, Thomas Oakland, John Ogbu, Jane Mercer, Daniel Reschly, Lauren Resnick, David Sabatino, and Naomi Zigmond for critiquing early drafts. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Rachel Kohnke in research activities for this paper. 182

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 183 placement are not examined in detail. Similarly, litigation and financial policies related to placement are not directly addressed. These issues are the subjects of other background papers prepared for the panel (see Mag- netti, 1980; the papers by Magnetti and Travers in this volume). The re- view of the literature stresses those studies that have examined placement processes since the passage of P.L. 94-142. Finally, the representation of minorities in EMR classes is the primary program area of concern, al- though issues related to learning disabilities (LD) and compensatory edu- cation programs are discussed where appropriate. Explicit attention is given to the empirical research on placement practices directly related to minority representation. In the following discussions, "placement pro- cess" refers to the referral, preplacement, evaluation, classification, and assignment of an individual student to an individualized special education program. This is understood to be distinct from the location, room, or fa- cility in which a specially classified child receives instruction. PLACEMENT MODELS Numerous models of what an effective placement process should consist of have been offered by education theorists and professionals in the field of special education. Jones reviews current models and offers a synthesis that suggests that these models have six basic components in common (Jones, 1979:171: First, a school-related problem is identified. The problem may be one of behavior, of achievement, of appropriateness of the administrative arrangement, or some combination of the above. Second, if formal observations and/or assessments are deemed necessary, permission to engage in such activities is sought from parents/ parent surrogates. Third, formal observations and assessments by various special- ists (e.g., school psychologists, school social workers, resource consultants, speech therapists, physicians, and others) are obtained. Fourth, a planning team is con- stituted to integrate information received about a child and to make recommenda- tions for further case disposition. Fifth, an instructional plan may be formulated. Sixth, follow-up is required. A model proposed by Reynolds and Birch (1977) comprises the four fundamental steps of screening, educational diagnosis, development of short- and long-term objectives, and program evaluation. Particular em- phasis is on the second step, in which there are at least four separate com- ponents: (1) obtaining available information, (2) standardized formal as- sessment (norm-referenced tests), (3) criterion-referenced tests, and (4) observation. Poland et al. (1979), in the context of learning-disabled placement, of

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184 BICKEL fer the following detailed 13-step model, based on a survey of special education directors: 1. Child found or referred 2. Review of referral 3. Appoint assessment team 4. Obtain parental permission 5. Assessment 6. Review of assessment results 7. Eligibility determination 8. Contact parent 9. Develop individual education plan (IEP) 10. Placement decision 11. Parental permission for placement 12. Develop strategies to implement the IEP 13. Implement program All of these theoretical models have in common what Oakland calls a commitment to fusing "assessment (i.e., placement) activities ... fused with intervention activities, creating a system in which the diagnostic pro- cesses find meaning by becoming interrelated with viable intervention pro- cesses" (1977:iii). This theme of relating intervention to assessment is at the heart of the panel's recommendations on assessment. The Poland model provides (through step 11) a framework for the anal- ysis of model placement processes. A child enters the placement process either through referral by a teacher, parent, or administrator or through identification by some routine screening process, such as a review of test scores in a district (step 11. The referral is reviewed by an individual or group of persons who function as gatekeepers in the system (step 21. A decision can be made at this point as to the appropriateness of the refer- ral. For example, a school principal may decide that the child's problem can be worked out within the existing classroom assignment. If the initial decision maker decides that further action is justified, an assessment team (also known as the placement team or the planning team) is appointed (step 3~. The team might consist of several of the child's teachers, a school administrator, staff psychologists, counselors, and others. Each member of the team brings specific expertise to the placement process and is individually responsible for collecting informa- tion on the child in the relevant domains). Prior to actually collecting information on the child the placement team informs the parents of the activity and their rights in the process (step 4~. Ideally the parents will not only be informed of the process but will also contribute to it. Once parental permission is obtained the actual evaluation activities are

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 185 undertaken (step 51. The data are collected and reviewed by the placement team (step 61; on the basis of the review, a child may be determined to be eligible for special education services (step 7~. If the child is found to be eligible, the child's parents are notified (step 81. A group consisting of a parent, the child's teacher, and at least one member of the placement team meets to develop an IEP (step 9~. The content of the IEP specifies what services the child requires (step 10), and the child is assigned to a program. The final step (step 11), for the purpose of this paper, is the securing of parental permission for the program of services assigned. (Steps 12 and 13 of the Poland model are not directly relevant to this paper, since they relate to post-placement implementation issues.) As the review of the literature below makes clear, Poland's model in many ways reflects the placement requirements of P.L. 94-142. The prob- lems involved in the federal regulations lie not in their distance from model or ideal practices but in the difficulties of implementing them in the complex and variable world of local and state education agencies. EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON PLACEMENT The literature on special education placement primarily addresses the ex- tent to which the P.L. 94-142 regulations are in place and, to a far lesser extent, the degree to which they are having the intended effects. Most of the studies reviewed focus on the placement process, broadly defined, without specifically addressing the minority representation issue per se. However, much of what is uncovered is relevant to the question of minor- ity representation in the sense that the results of these studies provide an important contextual background. Studies specifically addressing minor- ity representation are discussed in detail in a final subsection of each ma . . Jor section. The review of placement research has been organized into four major categories: 1. Referral and screening 2. Evaluation 3. IEPs and least restrictive environments 4. Due process/parental involvement It should be noted that this review is confined basically to work that has been done since the passage of P.L. 94-142 in 1975. The literature is developing rapidly, and much relevant research is currently under way. Such work in progress is described in terms of the research design and data-collection procedures, as available. The scarcity in some topic areas of research directly related to EMR

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186 BICKEL placement processes has necessitated that the studies reviewed draw on the larger placement context (e.g., learning disabilities). The findings of these studies are relevant in that many if not all of the same placement mechanisms apply in all programs. The program area of each study is made explicit. Each section begins with a brief description of the appropriate regula- tions and a general description of the studies relevant to a specific issue, followed by a review of findings, both convergent and conflicting. Studies that specifically investigate issues related to minority representation are described in detail. Finally, it should be noted that the methodological strategies used in each study are not reviewed in depth, although the stud- ies reviewed were selected on the basis of three criteria: (1) the relevance of the questions addressed, (2) the representativeness of the samples and data base, and (3) the appropriateness of the analysis and conclusions given the data reported. SCREENING AND REFERRAL Federal Mandate Requirements for screening and referral are contained in two sections of P.L. 94-142 (Sec. 300.128, Sec. 300.220~. State and local education agen- cies must ensure that all handicapped children are identified, located, and evaluated. Although specific activities are not prescribed, these agencies must detail in their annual program plans what has been done to locate children in need of service. Increases in Enrollment The number of students in special education programs has steadily in- creased despite a drop in total public school enrollment. The continued growth in the special education population is, in part, a result of federal pressure to institute aggressive screening and referral procedures and the growing availability of alternatives to program placement (especially LD programs) at the state and local levels. This pressure emanates from P.L. 94-142 and the Office of Special Education (OSE), formerly the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped. In their semiannual report to Congress (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1979b: xiii, here- after referred to as USHEW), OSE noted that "almost 75~o of the nation's handicapped school-age children are receiving special education ... to- day compared to less than half as estimated by Congress at the time P.L. 94-142 was enacted." The report goes on to state that 84 percent of the

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 187 polled states and territories have reported increases over the previous year. Several states (Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio) increased their special education population by more than 10,000 students in a single year. OSE reports that by 1979 approximately 3.71 million children were receiving special education services (USHEW, 1979b). As examples of the kinds of activities that are stimulating the growth in special education, the 1979 OSE report cites the involvement of parent groups, the use of print and electronic media to advertise the availability of assistance, and the availability of toll-free telephone numbers in numer- ous states. In some instances, new activities are the result of specific litiga- tion. For example, the Philadelphia school district was ordered to institute LD screening procedures for the entire student population because of allegedly inadequate prior service (Frederick L. v. Thomas, 1980~. OSE estimated that of 160,000 students evaluated nationwide as a part of screening and referral activities, "80~o were identified as potentially re- quiring special services" (p. 15~. Who Does the Referring? Referrals represent the second major source of students identified for possible placement in special education programs. While the overwhelm- ing opinion is that the classroom teacher is the major source of referral, relatively little direct research on this source has been uncovered. Six studies have looked at some aspect of the question of who does the referring (Birman, 1979; Blaschke, 1979; Nelson, 1980; USHEW, 1979c; Stearns et al., 1979; Stevens, 1980~. A range of states and local areas are to be found in the samples of these studies. In general, the major data- collection strategies involved interviews with special education personnel and/or reviews of referral documentation instruments. Several conclusions are reported in this research. First, the teacher is still the most important source of referrals (Birman, 1979; Blaschke, 1979; Stearns et al., 1979; USHEW, 1979c). For example, Blaschke (1979:9) concluded that most "new students entered special education through the in-school referral process." This generally consisted of the teacher's re- porting to the principal that "he/she is having difficulty teaching the child and needs assistance" (p. Coo. A second conclusion to be drawn from these studies is that there is also a trend toward the diversification of the source of referrals; other school personnel, parents, and health personnel are playing larger roles (Blaschke, 1979; Nelson, 1980; Stevens, 19801. Estimates were based on an OSE survey of 654 LEAs representing 50 percent of the school enrollment in 16 states. These figures were extended as estimates for the nation.

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188 What Influences Screening and Referral Rates and Content? BICKEL The question of what influences referrals is a difficult one, especially since most studies have relied on self-reported descriptions of the process by special education personnel rather than on direct observation by research- ers. Several studies, relying on interviews, report findings in this area (Blaschke, 1979; Stearns et al., 1979; USHEW, 1979a, 1979c). A most significant finding in these studies concerns the role of program availability in influencing referrals. In effect, the presence or absence of a service in a local education agency (LEA) strongly influences whether chil- dren are referred (Stearns et al., 1979; USHEW, 1979c). One study found that "school districts with more special education staff, facilities, and ser- vices identify more children needing help" (USHEW, 1979c:3~. This study reports one case of a district that has only EMR classes. This district, thus far, has identified only children with EMR handicaps. Not a single addi- tional handicap has been uncovered. The finding that child identification and resources are related is not in itself surprising. However, this trend, if widespread, indicates the difficulty of implementing the section of P.L. 94-142 that requires first the identification of educational needs and then the provision of treatment based on the needs identified. Such a process requires a district to create a program if it is needed rather than to find students who fit into existing programs. A second finding reported is that backlogs in processing assessments can reduce referrals (Blaschke, 1979; Stearns et al., 1979~. The regular classroom teacher becomes frustrated with a process that does not seem to deliver help to the children rapidly enough and tends to refer them less and less often. Another influence on referrals is the criteria for eligibility in a particu- lar state or LEA (Stearns et al., 1979; USHEW, 1979c). Federal regula- tions and education theorists assume that eligibility criteria are applied after a child is evaluated. However, Stearns et al. (1979) found that eligibility criteria can heavily influence the process at much earlier stages. An extreme case is a state that has such rigid eligibility criteria that even the referral forms for use by a teacher are based on specific programs. Thus, a teacher would not refer a student for assessment, but for EMR, ED (emotionally disturbed), or LD assessment. The importance of eligi- bility criteria and the variations in them found across states mean that "whether or not a child is identified as in need of special education [very often] depends on the state of residence" (Stearns et al., 1979 45~. At the other extreme, the Stearns et al. (1979) study found some states with such ambiguous criteria that a great deal of discretion in interpreta- tion is permitted at the local level. This encourages a "considerable lack of

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 189 uniformity in who gets identified both across LEAs and even across schools within LEAs" (p. 46~. (The ambiguity in criteria was documented by Huberty et al., 1980.) Great personal discretion in the referral process was also found by USHEW (1979c). The picture of wide variation from state to state in referral processes coupled with the possibility of signifi- cant personal discretion in the system supports the conclusion noted ear- lier that a child's referral for assessment may be as much a function of where he or she lives and attends school as it is of his or her actual learning capabilities and performance. This pattern of variation is an interesting contrast to the expectations of 27 special education directors in 1979, who indicated that the location and identification of children as required by P.L. 94-142 presented little difficulty (USHEW, 1979b). Outcomes of Identification It is not within the scope of this report to describe in detail the essential demographics of the students who are referred (see Finn in this volume). However, in reviewing the research on referrals, several interesting find- ings have been reported as to who is likely not to be referred. Stearns et al. (1979) found that referrals were generally on the increase in about half the sites in their study. They found a trend away from EMR and toward LD placements. (Such trends are further documented in Bickel, 1981.) They also found that five categories of children were not likely to be identified or referred: 1. Children who were LD at the high school level. 2. Children with emotional problems, especially at the intermediate and secondary school levels. 3. Children who were quiet and well behaved. 4. Children who did not have parents who influence the staff to act on their behalf. 5. Children who fall between the eligibility criteria for LD and EMR programs. Minority Representation and Screening and Referral Since P.L. 94-142 was enacted, little research has been conducted on the relationship of referral and screening practices to minority representation in special education classes. The obvious question is: Are minority stu- dents referred at a higher rate, thus influencing the higher placement rate in EMR classes? A few studies have lool~ed at this question through the re- view of actual referral data. Several others have used referral simulations

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190 BICKEL to examine the issue. Because of the small number of studies and their im- portance to this paper, these studies are reviewed individually. Tomlinson et al.'s (1977) study of 355 students referred for psychological services in an urban school system investigated the relationships among referral rates and "minority status, sex, ... types of presenting problems and the na- ture of subsequent psychological services" (p. 456~. The minority popula- tions represented in the samples consisted of 127 black, 42 native Ameri- can, and 5 Oriental students. Tomlinson et al. report the following (1978: 457-458~: 1. The referral rate of minority students was 14% higher than their en- rollment in school. 2. Minority students did not differ significantly from white students with respect to the type of problem (academic or behavior) for which they were referred with 41 percent of the minority students referred for aca- demic problems and 59 percent for behavior, and 39 percent and 61 per- cent, respectively, for these problems among white students. 3. Referral rates for males were higher (68 percent) than those for fe- males (32 percent). 4. There were no significant differences between males and females as to the type of problem identified for referral. An interesting related finding was that "the schools [in the sample] re- ferring the lowest percentage of minority students had been integrated the longest" (p. 458~. These researchers theorize that there exists the possibil- ity "that teachers, in making referrals of minority students, may in part be acting on a bias that decreases as their experience with minority students increases" (p. 458~. (It cannot be overemphasized that this is pure specu- lation, unsupported in the study or in the literature; the question has sim- ply not been addressed.) These researchers concluded their study with a call for further research to "determine if referral behaviors of minority students are quantitatively or qualitatively different from those of majority students, and the extent to which SES status alone would account for dif- ferences obtained" (p. 4581. The issue of socioeconomic status and its relationship to referrals and placements, largely unexamined in the literature, merits additional atten- tion if for no other reason than for the statistical correlations that have been obtained between socioeconomic status and achievement in school. A study in Florida (Lander and Wittmer, 1977) investigated the relation- ships among teacher referral rates and students' minority status, sex, and socioeconomic level. A sample of 359 elementary teachers from a single county school system was asked to review 16 hypothetical fourth-grade

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 191 students. The profiles contained similar information on age, socioeco- nomic status, behavior, achievement, intelligence, and family size. Only race and sex were varied in the samples. These researchers reported that "black students, although with the very same mental capacity and achievement test scores were referred to EMR classes . . . more frequently than were their white contemporaries (regardless of race of referring teacher)" (p. 169~. Craig et al. (1978) compared the characteristics of 7,000 children rec- ommended for special education by using indicators derived from teacher and parent recommendations, medical examinations, school behaviors, test scores, and developmental histories. Variations were investigated for six types of handicaps: hearing, vision, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, orthopedic, and speech. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics were used. Several findings are most relevant: (1) There was little agreement among the various indicators used for recommending students for special services (i.e., teachers and parents were not identify- ing the same groups of students). (2) Despite the inconsistency among in- dicators, more students from lower socioeconomic groups tended to be identified for many of the handicapping conditions. (3) Teachers tended to recommend greater numbers of blacks for EMR and ED placements. Teachers also tended to recommend more males than females for these categories. In addition, disruptive school behavior seemed to play a role in teacher recommendations. The influences of race and sex were also investigated in a study of His- panic students in the Southwest (Zucker et al., 19791. In this study, 180 second- and third-grade teachers were asked to evaluate a student file and rate the appropriateness for placement in an EMR program. The infor- mation used was designed to "create equivocal data," i.e., "no hard evidence to provide justification for special class placement" was present (p. 31. The student was shown to be functioning one year below academic grade level. Only race and sex were varied. The researchers reported that "regardless of sex ... teachers scored special class placement more ap- propriate for Mexican-American children than they did for white chil- dren" (p. 4~. Contrasting findings were uncovered in a recent review of a large urban school district in the Northeast undertaken by the Region III Office of OCR (Naidoff and Gross, 1980~. Data were collected on the referral rates of children for psychological assessments. During the 1978-1979 school year, 978 students were referred for psychological testing for learning or behavioral problems. Approximately 49 percent of these students were black. Since the district population was 48 percent black at the time, it was determined that black students were not being referred disproportion

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192 BICKEL ately. It should be noted, however, that in this same district the percent- age of students placed in EMR programs was higher for black students than their percentage in the district. Although the studies discussed in the previous sections on referral did not address minority representation issues explicitly, one finding that turns up in several of these studies may be germane. Stearns et al. (1979) and USHEW (1979c) found that the availability of programs and staff has a positive effect on referrals. The more staff and programs there are, the more referrals are made. This may be significant for the issue of minority representation in urban districts with large concentrations of black stu- dents. If urban districts have more services available and more staff con- cerned with placement (this, of course, would have to be shown), this availability coupled with the concentration of black students may act to inflate referral rates for these populations overall. This question warrants additional research. This review of the literature does not provide an adequate answer to the original question of whether referral rates are higher for minorities. The bulk of the studies, using real or simulated data, do show a tendency toward higher rates of referral for minorities. However, contrasting evidence in a large urban district was also uncovered. This evidence plus the limited number of studies addressing the question lead to the conclu- sion that more research must be undertaken to establish a more thorough understanding of the relationship between minority referrals and EMR placement rates. Conclusion In terms of the larger body of research, two findings stand out most clearly: (1) the tendency for referrals to be influenced by program availability and (2) the ambiguity in some instances and rigidity in others of the criteria for various categories. The next section reviews the literature on what happens after referral. EVALUATION The research discussed in this section describes some of the basic assess- ment practices currently in use. As noted earlier, detailed analysis of test issues is not a focus of this paper. The discussion here is divided into three major subsections: (1) How are evaluations conducted? (2) What influ- ences evaluation processes? (3) What is the quality of the decision made? In theory, referral and assessment activities cannot be easily separated from the writing of IEPs and the assignment of least restrictive environ

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220 BICKEL teachers in teaching minority students may be positively related to lower referral rates: that is, the greater the experience, the lower the rate. On these questions, like most questions related to minority issues, there are large gaps in our knowledge about the impact of the law; thus, conclu- sions at this juncture are premature. Referral rates do not seem to be greatly influenced by the presence of federal money per se. There is no evidence that students are placed simply to increase a school district's budget by the federal increment that sup- ports special education. However, this may be because of the relatively modest levels of support for new programming that currently exist. The availability of state and local resources was found to be highly significant: Students are referred to and placed in programs that exist. Rigid eligibility criteria for specific programs in some districts actually influence the referral process. That is, students are not referred for a gen- eral assessment of needs, but rather for an ED, LD, or EMR evaluation. Procedural requirements for assessment (e.g., extensive reviews, due process, etc.) within a state (most often) and within a district also in- fluence referral rates. For example, the emphasis on individualized assess- ment (in part as a result of the federal mandate for IEPs) has tended to slow the evaluation process, creating a backlog in the referral process that in turn can discourage referrals. Parental pressure was found to be a significant factor in referral. In some districts a history of strong parental involvement tended to discour- age referrals because teachers (and presumably others) were hesitant to face the hostility that such a referral might entail. It is also true, however, that active parental pressure has acted to bring students' needs to the at- tention of school officials. It is clear that a great amount of personal discretion still exists in the re- ferral process, and as a result there is a tendency to refer children who have more severe problems or who disrupt school routines. EVALUATION Once a child is identified or referred, some individual or group determines whether the case merits further assessment. As the system currently func- tions, gatekeepers at this point in the process often use largely undeter- mined criteria to decide if an assessment should be made. The gatekeeper may be the school principal, counselor, or some district officer. A decision to assess usually brings the involvement of additional par- ticipants, often the school psychologist and the parents (at some point). Additional participants can include regular and special education teach

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 221 ers and administrative personnel. This group, or key individuals in it, de- termine the areas in which the child should be evaluated. There is wide variation in the areas in which a child might be assessed. Important trends have been documented indicating that a broadening in the domains assessed is occurring as required by P.L. 94-142. However, data clearly indicate a heavy reliance on traditional asessment informa- tion, especially IQ and achievement tests, in the EMR evaluation process. The continued reliance on IQ tests in EMR placement has a significant impact on minority placements. Minority students, in the aggregate, do not do as well as majority students on these measures, a fact that may ex- plain in part the higher placement rates among minority populations. The rate of placement of minority students diminishes as the IQ cutoff score is lowered. The use of measures of adaptive behavior also was found to lower the rate of placement of minority students, provided such measures were not simply standardized tests of in-school adaptive behavior. Once the data are collected, a decision is made as to eligibility. The decision process often occurs with the ostensible participation of the entire placement team. There are some indications, however, that participation is often a formality, in which a key individual (e.g., an administrator or a school psychologist) makes a recommendation to the group for fairly routine approval. A variety of factors influence the determination of eligibility. The most important seems to be not individual educational needs, as the law re- quires, but rather the availability of programs. The data clearly indicate that a child is rarely determined eligible for services that are not currently in place. Initial referral information and achievement and IQ test scores were also found to be very influential in the eligibility decision. Demo- graphic factors such as race, socioeconomic status, and sex were in them- selves not found to be directly significant in the limited number of studies that examined these variables. For example, race alone did not seem to determine placement when other variables were held constant. However, the correlation among socioeconomic status, race, and test scores clearly establishes a general pattern of higher placement of minority students when these measures are relied on heavily. It should be noted that some interesting, contrasting findings to the above pattern- are reported in several studies of the placement behavior of psychologists. Some psychologists tended to place minority students at a lower rate (or in less restrictive environments) than their majority counter- parts when majority students had similar test scores. Researchers spec- ulate that this pattern may be the result of a growing sensitivity within the profession to minority issues, perhaps as a result of P.L. 94-142.

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222 sICKEL Personal discretion on the part of team members also was found to be influential in the placement decision, particularly in the selection of the areas in which a student is evaluated. The evidence is too thin, however, to draw conclusions about this issue. Additional factors that influence the placement decision include the ex- istence of program alternatives outside special education (e.g., Title I) and ambiguity in state and federal criteria for placement. Ambiguity in the guidelines was especially significant for LD placements. The federal regulations and the theoretical models reviewed in this paper indicate that an assessment of needs should precede a determina- tion of eligibility, followed by the design of a program to meet the needs (IEP), and then an assignment to a context in which to implement the services (least restrictive environment). This sequence is rarely found in practice. The practical limitations of resources, noted above, in addition to the demands on the time of school personnel usually mean that the pro- cess is compacted into one or two meetings. And a placement decision is seldom separate from the program realities (i.e., the existence of services and available space) of a given local education agency. A number of studies investigated the quality of placement decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. Consistency in the ability of placement procedures to discriminate between various populations needing services and those not needing services was the basic criterion used. Research on EMR programs generally indicates consistency in these placements; how- ever, it tended to be the result of a single measure, IQ scores. Research on ED and LD placements demonstrated little consistency in these place- ments. Ambiguous disability guidelines, inadequate testing technology, and inconsistently applied psychological theory created patterns of place- ment in which inconsistency was more the rule than the exception. It is important to remember that consistency is not the only measure of the quality of placement decisions. Ultimately, the efficacy of the place- ment for the child is the criterion that must be used to determine quality. Research on efficacy is needed, especially as efficacy relates to minority students. IEPS AND LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENTS Research on IEPS and least restrictive environments has investigated issues concerning the status of the implementation of P.L. 94-142 regula- tions, how IEPs and least restrictive environments are determined, and their content. A general trend of compliance with the form of P.L. 94-142 regulations in these areas is documented in the research; most states now have policies in place that reflect federal requirements.

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 223 Research examining the writing of IEPs supports the view that factors external to the assessment of needs often guide the final content of the in- dividual program of services. That is, service availability may be more sig- nificant than the particular need of a child. An IEP is often written by some or all of the same group that detainee placement and sometimes even at the same time. A point of contention in the process seems to center on the federal requirement that IEPs include specific evaluation strategies to assess whether the goals are met. There seems to be a serious concern among educators that such evaluations will be used for accountability purposes. As a result there is a genuine reluctance among practitioners to be specific in the statement of goals. Another major point of tension related to IEPs concerns the amount of time that is required on the part of teachers to write them. The quality and content of IEPs range dramatically from district to district and from state to state. In general, long-range, open-ended goals take precedence over short-term, specific objectives. As noted above, this may be the result of fears on the part of teachers and school officials that the IEPs will be used for accountability purposes; The special education teacher plays a key role in the writing of an IEP, especially when short- term goals are included. Little research has been done to determine whether the content of IEPs varies with the ethnicity or social class of a student. The importance of this question is related to the issue of whether special education placements for minority students are dead-end placements or whether these students receive important services in these classes. The few studies that have reported information on this issue suggest that content is not dependent on the race or the social class of the student. Decisions on least restrictive environments are similar to those on IEPs. That is, the close link between the availability of a program and a classifi- cation influences the determination of the least restrictive environment. Most districts simply do not have the range of program alternatives that is implied in P.L. 94-142. Thus, an EMR placement in a given district may automatically imply a certain decision on the least restrictive environment regardless of the capabilities and needs of an individual child. Research on variations in least restrictive environments, like that on IEPs, is limited. One study that investigates the issue finds no relationship between the type of environment chosen for placement and the race of a student (Matuszek and Oakland, 19791. Another study finds a tendency to place minority students in less restrictive environments than their white counterparts (Tomlinson et al., 1977~. This may be a result of a trend in the referral process that refers fewer majority students; these students pre

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224 BICKEL sumably have more obviously serious problems than the larger numbers of minority students referred. PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AND DUE PROCESS Research on parental involvement and due process proceedings docu- ments that, while the law has had an important impact, there is room for considerable improvement. Parents are becoming more involved in place- ment processes. They are important sources of initial referrals, and they are often an important source of pressure on school districts to provide ad- ditional or better services. For the most part, parents attend IEP meetings and sign forms approving assessments, placements, and service delivery. However, the research also demonstrates that participation is often super- ficial and that consent is seldom informed. Interestingly enough, the re- sponsibility for shortcomings in this area is rather equitably distributed among all concerned. Parents often are unknowledgeable, apathetic, or too trusting. School officials often see parental involvement as an unhelp- ful intrusion on the exercise of their professional expertise. Unrealistic regulations place extreme burdens on the time and energy of parents and school personnel in requiring attention to IEPs, more comprehensive assess- ment, and increased parental involvement all with due speed. The history of school-parent interactions and the social class of parents are significant influences on involvement. The type of district (i.e., subur- ban or urban) was also important; parental involvement occurred to a lesser extent in urban districts. Each of these factors contributes to the lack of parental involvement in placement decisions. What little research exists on the involvement of minority parents suggests that they are not fully participating beyond the formal requirements of the law. There is some suggestion (based on only two studies) that even when minority parents do become involved, they receive different treatment (e.g., are given fewer program options) than that typically given to majority parents. Due process procedures providing recourse for the parents and school personnel when there are disagreements are generally in place. The most common foci of these proceedings since P.L. 94-142 have been on acquiring public school support for private placement and the provision of related ser- vices. Clearly, more research is required in this area. Factors that hinder the use of due process hearings by parents include (1) the complexity of the law and parental lack of understanding and (2) the costs of participation in terms of time and attorneys' expenses. The parents involved in due process hearings tend to be white, nonurban, and middle class. Interesting by-products of due process hearings have been an increas- ing formality and tension in communications between school officials and

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 225 parents, with greater emphasis placed on recordkeeping and written agreements. CONCLUSION The research on placement processes for special education indicates that most of the P.L. 94-142 requirements are in place, at least in form. Great amounts of time and energy are being expended by school personnel, children, and parents in the implementation of specific regulations. How- ever, additional time, resources, and effort will be required to fully imple- ment the intent of the P.L. 94-142 regulations in placement. In terms of the impact that the placement provisions of P.L. 94-142 are having on the dis- proportionate representation of minorities in special education programs, research undertaken to date does not adequately address this issue. What indications there are suggest that much remains to be done to ensure that placement occurs in an accurate, fair, and efficacious manner for these students. It is also clear that research concerned with minority experiences in special education must extend to issues related to efficacy. Regardless of the circumstances of placement, one question remains: Does placement in special programs lead to the effective treatment of a child's actual prob- lems? It is on these grounds that special education programs must justify themselves to minority students and to all other students who are placed in them. REFERENCES Alper, T. G. 1980 IEPs, How Well Do They Work? Paper prepared under grant no. 77-37-B for the California State Department of Education. Amira, S., Abramowitz, S. I., and Gomes-Schwartz, B. 1977 Socially-charged pupil and psychologist effects on psychoeducational decisions. Journal of Special Ed location 11 :433-440. Bersoff, D. N. 1979 Regarding psychologists testily: regulation of psychological assessment in the public schools. Maryland Law Review 39(1):27-120. Bickel, W. E. 1981 Second Assessment for Minority Students in Special Education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York. Birman, B. F. 1979 Case Studies of Overlap Between Title I and P.L. 94-142 Services for Handicapped Students. Research report EPRC 26 prepared for the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Menlo Park, Calif.: SRI International. Blaschke, C. L. 1979 Case Study of the Impact of Implementation of P.L. 94-142. Executive Summary. Washington, D.C.: Education Turnkey Systems.

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226 BICKEL Buss, W. G., Kirp, D. L., and Kuriloff, P. J. 1976 Exploring procedural modes of special classification. Pp. 386-431 in N. Hobbs, ea., Issues in the Classification of Children. Vol. II. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey- Bass, Inc. Craig, P. A., Kaskowitz, D. H., and Malgoire, M. A. 1978 Teacher Identification of Handicapped Pupils (Ages 6-11) Compared with Iden- tification Using Other Indicators, Volume II. Menlo Park, Calif.: Educational Policy Research Center, Stanford Research Institute. Fisher, A. T. 1977 Four Approaches to Classification of Mentally Retarded. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Toronto. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 172-495. Frederick, L. v. Thomas 1980 408 F. Supp. 832 (E.D. Pa., 1976); 419 F. Supp. 960 (E.D. Pa., 1976); afford. 557 F.2d 373 (3rd Cir., 1977), 578 F.2d 513 (3rd Cir., 1978); Stipulation, E.D. Pa., 4/7/80. Gajar, A. H. 1977 Characteristics and classification of educable mentally retarded, learning disabled, and emotionally disturbed students. Doctoral dissertation, University of Virginia. Dissertation Abstracts International 3&:4090A. University microfilm no. 77-28, 644. Hallahan, D. P., and Kauffman, J. 1977 Labels, categories, and behaviors: ED, LD, and EMR reconsidered. Journal of Special Education 11:139-149. Hansche, J. H., Gottfried, N. W., and Hansche, W. J. No Special Education Classification: A Multivariate Analysis and Evaluation of Clini date cal Judgments. Unpublished paper, Department of Psychology, Tulane University. Hobbs, N., ed. 1975 Issues in the Classification of Children. 2 vols. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, Inc. Huberty, T. J., Koller, J. R., and Tenbrink, T. D. 1980 Adaptive behavior in the definition of mental retardation. Exceptional Children 46:256-261. Johnson, V. M. 1977 Salient features and sorting factors in the diagnosis and classification of excep- tional children. Doctoral dissertation, Pennsylvania State University. Dissertation Abstracts International 37:4282-A. University microfilm no. 76-29, 649. Jones, R. L. 1979 Protection evaluation procedures: criteria and recommendations. Pp. 15-84 in PEP: Developing Criteria for the Evaluation of Protection in Evaluation Proce- dures Provisions. Philadelphia, Pa.: Research for Better Schools. Kaskowitz, D. H. 1977 Validation of State Counts of Handicapped Children. Vol. II. Menlo Park, Calif.: Stanford Research Institute. Kotin, L. 1976 Due Process in Special Education: Legal Perspectives. Cambridge, Mass.: Re- search Institute for Educational Problems. Lanier, J., and Wittmer, J. 1977 Teacher prejudice in referral of students to EMR programs. The School Counselor 24: 165-170.

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 227 Larry P. v. Riles 1979 495 F. Supp. 926 (N.D. Cal. 1979) (decision on merits) appeal docketed No. 80.4027 (9th Cir., Jan. 179 1980). Larson, S. L. 1978 The implementation of labeling and diagnostic placements of children within schools in two southeastern Nebraska communities. Doctoral dissertation, Univer- sity of Nebraska. Dissertation Abstracts International 39:1442A-1441A. University microfilm no. 78- 14700. Magnetti, S. S. 1980 The Legal Context of Special Education Placement. Background paper prepared for the Panel on Selection and Placement of Students in Programs for the Mentally Retarded, Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. 1981 Assessment Practice in Louisiana. Memorandum prepared for the Panel on Selec- tion and Placement of Students in Programs for the Mentally Retarded, Committee on Child Development Research and Public Policy, National Research Council. Washington, D.C. Marver, J. D., and David, J. L. 1978 Three States Experiences with IEP Requirements Similar to P.L. 94-142. Menlo Park, Calif.: SRI International, Educational Policy Research Center. Matuszek, P., and Oakland, T. 1979 Factors influencing teachers' and psychologists' recommendations regarding spe- cial class placement. Journal of School Psychology 17: 116- 125. McDermott, P. A. 1980 Congruence and typology of diagnoses in school psychology: an empirical study. Psychology in the Schools 17: 12-24. Mercer, J. R. 1972 I.Q.: the lethal label. Psychology Today 6:44; 97. 1979 System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment Technical Manual. New York: Psychological Corporation. Mercer, J. R., and Lewis, J. F. 1978 System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment. New York: Psychological Corpora- tion. Meyers, C. E., MacMillan, D. L., and Yoshida, R. K. 1978 Validity of psychologists' identification of educable mentally retarded students in the perspective of the California Recertification experience. Journal of School Psychology 16:4-15. Mishra, S. P. 1980 The influence of examiner's ethnical attributes on intelligence test scores. Psychol- ogy in the Schools 17: 117-122. Naidoff, S. W., and Gross, J. A. 1980 Memorandum prepared for Office of the Regional Attorney, Philadelphia, Pa. National Association of State Directors of Special Education 1978 The Implementation of Due Process in Massachusetts. Washington, D.C.: Na- tional Association of State Directors of Special Education. 1980 Summary of Research Findings on IEPs. Washington, D.C.: National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Nelson, F. H. 1980 Fiscal Determinants of the Provision of Services to Handicapped Children. Paper

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228 BICKEL presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Boston, Mass. Oakland, T., ed. 1977 Psychological and Educational Assessment of Minority Children. New York: Brun- ner/Mazel. Pennsylvania Associatio'' for Retarded Citizens v. Pennsylvania 1971 344 F. Supp. 1257 (E.D. Pa., 1971). Petersen, C. R., and Hart, D. H. 1978 Use of multiple discriminant function analysis in evaluation of a state-wide system for identification of educationally handicapped children. Psychological Reports 43:743-755. Poland, S., Ysseldyke, J., Thurlow, M., and Mirkin, P. 1979 Current Assessn2e'2t a,2d Decision Making Practices i,2 School Settings as Reported by Directors of Special Educatio,2. Research report no. 14. Minneapolis. Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities. Portny, S. E. 1980 An External Evaluatio,2 of' C0~2ti'2Uu''? Educatio,2 in the Montgomery County Public Schools. Alexandria, Va.: Portny & Associates. Reisman, K., and Macy, J. 1978 Context Evaluation of IEPs in an Urban School District. Paper presented at the meeting of the Rocky Mountain Educational Association, Albuquerque, N.Mex. Reschly, D. J. In Assessing mild mental retardation: the influence of adaptive behavior, sociocul press tural status and prospects for non-biased assessment. In C. R. Reynolds and T. B. Gutkin, eds., A Handbook for School Psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Reschly, D. J., and Jipson, F. J. 1976 Ethnicity, geographic locale, age, sex, and urban-rural residence as variables in the prevalence of mild retardation. American Journal of Mental Deficiency 81:154-161. Research Triangle Institute 1980 A National Survey of Individualized Education Programs {IEPs) for Handicapped Children. Final report, Vol. I, Executive Summary. Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Research Triangle Institute, Center for Educational Research and Evaluation. Reynolds, M. D., and Birch, J. W. 1977 Teaching Exceptional Children in all America's Schools: A First Course for Teachers and Principals. Reston, Va.: Council for Exceptional Children. Schenck, S. J., and Levy, W. K. 1980 IEPs: The State of the Art-1978. Hightstown, N.J.: Northeast Regional Resource Center. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 175-201. Stearns, M. S., Greene, D., and David, J. L. 1979 Local Implementation oy'P. L. 94-142. Menlo Park, Calif.: SRI International. Stevens, F. I. 1980 The Impact of the Larry P. Case on Urban School Districts. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Council on Measurement in Education, Boston, Mass. Swanson, E. N., and Deblassie, R. R. 1979 Interpreter and Spanish administration effects on the WISC performance of Mexican-American children. Journal of School Psychology 19:231-236. Thouvenelle, S., and Hebbeler, K. 1978 Placement Procedures for Determining the Least Restrictive E'2vironn2e'2t Place- ment for Handicapped Children. Silver Spring, Md.: Applied Management Sciences, Inc.

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Classifying Mentally Retarded Students 229 Thurlow, M. L., and Ysseldyke, J. E. 1979 Current Assessment and Decision-Maki~qg Practice i'' Model Programs for the Learning Disabled. Research report no. 11. Minneapolis, Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities, University of Minnesota. 1980 Factors Influential on the Psychoed ucational Decisions Reached by Teams of Educators. Research report no. 25. Minneapolis, Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities, University of Minnesota. Tomlinson, J. R., Acker, N., Conter, A., and Lindborg, S. 1977 Minority status and school psychological services. Psychology i,' the Schools 14:456-460. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 1979a Progress Toward a Free Appropriate Public Educatio'': A Report to Congress on the Impleme,~tat~on of P.L. 94-142: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Office of Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. 1979b Progress Toward a Free Appropriate Public Educatio'': Semi-A,'''ual Update o'' the Implementatio,' of P.L. 94-142: The Education of All Handicapped Children Act. Office of Education. Superintendant of Documents no. 0-631-611/2923. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1979c Service Delivery Assessment: Education for the Handicapped. Unpublished report. Inspector General's Office. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Wall, C. 1978 Pennsylvania's Preschool Pilot Individualized Educational Program. Paper pre- sented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto. Wang, M. C. 1981 The Adaptive Mainstreaming Learning Environments Project: A'2 Interim Report. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pitts- burgh. Weatherly, R. A. 1979 Reforming Special Education: Policy Implementatio'' from State Level to Street Level. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Wolf, F. 1977 The Relationship between Poverty Ed Achievement. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Education. Ysseldyke, J. E., and Algozzine, R. 1980 Diagnostic Classification Decisions as a Functio'2 of Referral I'~forn2atio,7. Re- search report no. 19. Minneapolis, Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities, University of Minnesota. Ysseldyke, J. E., Algozzine, R., Regan, R.. and McGue. M. 1979a The Influence of Test Scores and Naturally-Occurring Pupil Characteristics O,Z Psychoeducatio'`al Decision Making with Childre,2. Research report no. 17. Min- neapolis, Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities. University of Minnesota. Ysseldyke, J. E., Algozzine, R., Shinn. M., and McGue, M. 1979b Similarities and Differences betu~ee,' Underachievers arid Students Labeled Lear,?- ing Disabled: Identical Twins with Different Mothers. Research report no. 13. Minneapolis, Minn.: Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities University of Minnesota. Zucker. S. H., Prieto, A. G.. and Rutherford. R. B. 1979 Racial Determinants of Teacher's Perceptions of Placement of the Educable Men- tally Retarded. Paper presented at the meeting of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dallas, Texas. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 191 015.