Significant Disproportionality Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Overview

Methodology

Indicator Review Process

Review of Policies, Procedures and Practices

Redirection of Funds


Overview

    What is significant disproportionality under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) section 618(d)?
    Disproportionality is one measure of educational equity. It occurs when students from a racial group are identified for special education, placed in more restrictive settings, or disciplined at markedly higher rates than their peers. The federal government considers disproportionality “significant” when the overrepresentation exceeds a threshold defined by each state.
     
    National and state longitudinal data show significant racial inequities in the educational experiences of students with disabilities. Educators in Ohio are:
    • More than twice as likely to identify Black students with intellectual disabilities, place Black students in more restrictive settings and remove Black students from educational settings for discipline; and
    • More than three times as likely to identify Black students as having an emotional disturbance or to expel Black students.

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    What are the federal requirements?
    IDEA section 618(d) requires states to collect and examine data to determine if significant disproportionality based on race is occurring in the state and the local education agencies of the state with respect to the identification of children as children with disabilities, including all disabilities and specific disability categories; the placement of children with disabilities in particular educational settings; and the incidence, duration, and type of disciplinary actions, including suspensions and expulsions. All students are included in the calculations for identification, while only students with disabilities are considered in the calculations for placement and discipline. Preschool students will be included in the calculations for identification beginning with the 2020-2021 Special Education Profile.
     

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    How and why have federal requirements changed?
    In December 2016, the United States Department of Education announced new regulations to further address equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Changes require states to use a standard method of analysis to identify significant disproportionality, expand the categories of analysis related to discipline and compare racially homogenous districts to the state.

    All states now must use the risk ratio method for calculating disproportionality. This method compares the likelihood to identify students of a racial group as having disabilities to the likelihood that students of all other races will experience the same outcome.

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    How will changes to the federal requirements affect districts and schools in Ohio?
    • Ohio will require more districts than ever to address inequities by redirecting funds.
    • Ohio is likely to identify more districts than have been identified in the past for being disproportionate in discipline due to the expanded number of categories.
    • Ohio may identify many districts of predominantly one racial group based on the new alternate risk ratio calculation, which compares the experiences of students in a district to the state.
    • These changes will equally affect all community schools and traditional districts.
    • Districts will receive additional supports to ensure equitable access to high-quality academic experiences for all students.

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    How will the addition of preschool students to identification impact the numbers?
    Adding preschool students will increase the overall enrollment, determined by full-time equivalency (FTE), to both the numerator and denominator for both the specific racial groups as well as the comparison groups. The specific impact of adding preschool students to identification calculations on the number of LEAs with significant disproportionality is unknown until calculations including the 2019-2020 school year are completed.

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    How were stakeholders engaged in making decisions about meeting federal requirements?
    In August of 2017 and again in September and November 2020, the Department convened a group of stakeholders to discuss the new disproportionality requirements. Representatives from the national IDEA Data Center served as facilitators to provide a national perspective in the process of gathering consensus input from Ohio’s stakeholders.
     
    Stakeholders represented the following groups:  Advocates for Educational Equity and Excellence, Bowling Green State University, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, Dayton Public Schools, East Cleveland City Schools, Disability Rights Ohio, Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, Groveport Community school, Northwest Local Schools (Hamilton County), Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators, Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators, Ohio Association of Pupil Services Administrators, Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Ohio Division for Early Childhood, Ohio Education Association, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio School Psychologists Association, State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children, Shaker Heights City Schools, Springfield City Schools, and Westerville City Schools. 
     
    Several State Support Team Regions (Regions 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13 and 14) also participated.

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Methodology

    What is the standard methodology states must use to identify significant disproportionality in districts and community schools?
    The new regulations require that states use a standard methodology for calculating significant disproportionality in 14 categories of analysis. The standard methodology includes a risk ratio, an alternate risk ratio, and minimum cell and n-sizes. States are allowed flexibility in the risk ratio threshold, in the number of years used to determine significant disproportionality and in considering progress toward the threshold. All decisions that led to Ohio’s methodology reflect stakeholder input.

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    What are the 14 categories of analysis?
    The new regulations require states to calculate disproportionality in 14 categories for each of the seven racial groups: American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, Multiracial, Pacific Islander, and White. Each district has the potential for up to 98 calculations, if it enrolls enough students in each racial category to complete the calculations. Here are the 14 categories of analysis:

    Identification
    1. All Disabilities
    2. Intellectual Disabilities
    3. Specific Learning Disabilities
    4. Emotional Disturbance
    5. Speech or Language Impairments
    6. Other Health Impairments – Minor
    7. Autism
    Placement
    1. Inside a regular class for less than 40 percent of the day
    2. Inside separate schools and residential facilities
    Discipline
    1. Out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of 10 days or fewer
    2. Out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of more than 10 days
    3. In-school suspensions of 10 days or fewer
    4. In-school suspensions of more than 10 days
    5. Total disciplinary removals

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    What are the seven racial groups?
    The new regulations require states to calculate disproportionality in 14 categories for each of the seven racial groups identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, Multiracial, Pacific Islander and White.

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    What is a risk ratio?
    Risk ratios analyze disparities for seven racial groups, comparing each group to all other students in the district for each of the 14 categories of analysis. A risk ratio is a numerical comparison, expressed as a decimal, between the risk of a specific outcome for a specific racial group in a district and the risk of that same outcome for all other students in the district.

    Risk measures the likelihood of students in a racial group to receive a given educational outcome. This is expressed as a percentage or proportion. For example, districts will calculate risk by dividing the number of Black students who are identified as students with disabilities by the number of all Black students enrolled in the district, then multiplying by 100. If there are 40 Black students in the district who are identified as students with disabilities, out of a total of 200 Black students in the district, the risk of a Black student being identified as a student with a disability is 40 ÷ 200 x 100 = 20 percent.

    A risk ratio compares the risk that students in a given racial group will experience a given outcome compared to the risk that students of all other races will experience that outcome. For example, the risk of a Black student being identified as a student with a disability is 40 ÷ 200 x 100 = 20 percent, as described in the paragraph above. Of the 2,000 non-Black students, 200 are identified as students with disabilities. This is the comparison group.  The risk of all other students being identified as students with disabilities is 200 ÷ 2,000 x 100 = 10 percent.

    The risk ratio is calculated by dividing the risk of a Black student being identified as a student with a disability (20 percent) by the risk of all students of all other races being identified as students with disabilities (10 percent). The risk ratio for Black students in the district being identified as students with disabilities is 20 ÷ 10 = 2.00. Generally, a risk ratio of 1.00 indicates that students from a given racial group are no more or less likely than students from all other racial groups to experience a particular outcome. A risk ratio of 2.00 indicates that one group is twice as likely as all other students to experience that outcome. In this example, a Black student in this district is twice as likely to be identified as a student with a disability as compared to students of all other races in this district.

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    What is a risk ratio threshold?
    risk ratio threshold is the ratio value established as a matter of policy at which the risk ratio in each category indicates significant disproportionality. If a district’s risk ratio exceeds the threshold set by the state, the district has significant disproportionality. Ohio’s risk ratio threshold is 2.50 for all 14 categories of analysis. In the earlier example of Black students being identified as students with disabilities, the risk ratio was 2.00. This district would not be flagged for significant disproportionality in this category. However, if, in the same district, Multiracial students are four times more likely than all other students to be identified as students with disabilities, the risk ratio for Multiracial students being identified as students with disabilities is 4.00. That disproportionality is significant. A risk ratio threshold is considered within the multi-year flexibility provision described below.

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    What is the multi-year flexibility provision?
    States are required to examine districts annually for significant disproportionality. However, states are not required to identify a district with significant disproportionality until the district has exceeded the risk ratio threshold for up to three prior consecutive years. The multi-year flexibility was designed to account for small changes in district enrollment that could cause large changes in a risk ratio. Ohio considers risk ratios for the three most current years when identifying districts with significant disproportionality.

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    Which years are included in the calculation under the multi-year flexibility?

    States are required to examine districts annually for significant disproportionality. States are not required to identify a district with significant disproportionality until the district has exceeded the risk ratio threshold for up to three prior consecutive years. The multi-year flexibility was designed to account for small changes in district enrollment that could cause large changes in a risk ratio. Ohio considers risk ratios for the three most recent school years when identifying districts with significant disproportionality. For the 2020-2021 Special Education Profiles, disproportionality calculations will be based on data from the 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 school years.

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    Which data are included in the calculation under the multi-year flexibility?
    The state uses data reported by each LEA to Ohio’s Education Management Information System (EMIS) for the three most recent school years that have concluded. For the 2020-2021 Special Education Profiles, disproportionality calculations will be based on data from the 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 school years. Business rules, including EMIS codes, are included in the Disproportionality Technical Document.

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    What is reasonable progress?
    Allowances for reasonable progress are intended to prevent state disruption of meaningful district efforts to reduce significant disproportionality. A district has demonstrated reasonable progress when its risk ratio has exceeded the threshold for three consecutive years but still has fallen by an increment, set by the state, for two consecutive years. Ohio has set the reasonable progress increment at 0.25. For example, if a district has a risk ratio greater than 2.50 for three consecutive years but the risk ratio has decreased by at least 0.25 for two consecutive years, the district has demonstrated reasonable progress. It will not be flagged for significant disproportionality. This means the risk ratio for the second year must be at least 0.25 less than the first year, and the risk ratio for the third year must be at least 0.25 less than the second year.

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    When will the reasonable progress provision go into effect?
    Immediately. Reasonable progress is considered when calculating disproportionality for each category of analysis. If a district meets the reasonable progress provision for a category of analysis, it will not be identified with significant disproportionality in that category. The district will not be required to redirect funds or complete monitoring activities for disproportionality.

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    How many risk ratios does the state calculate for each district?
    The state calculates up to 98 risk ratios per district. This includes risk ratios in 14 categories of analysis for each of seven racial groups. However, the state does not need to calculate risk ratios for populations that fall below the minimum cell sizes or minimum n-sizes set by the state.

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    What is a minimum cell size?
    The minimum cell size is a minimum number of students experiencing a particular outcome. In risk ratio calculation, minimum cell size applies to the numerator in the fraction for calculating the risk for a racial group. Ohio’s minimum cell size is 10. For example, if two out of 20 Asian children are identified with emotional disturbances, that is a risk of 2 ÷ 20 x 100 = 10 percent. However, the risk numerator of two is less than the minimum cell size of 10, so the state would not calculate this district’s risk ratio for Asian students identified with emotional disturbances.

    Minimum cell size also applies to the numerator in the fraction for calculating risk of the comparison group, which is students in all other racial groups. For example, if 30 out of 1,500 White students in a district are identified with autism, that is a risk of 30 ÷ 1,500 x 100 = 2 percent. If only five of the 500 students in other racial groups are identified with autism, a regular risk ratio would not be calculated for White students because the risk numerator of five for the comparison group is less than the minimum cell size of 10.
     
    If a district does not meet the minimum cell or n-size for the comparison group, disproportionality regulations require that an alternate risk ratio be calculated. (See the discussion below.)

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    What is a minimum n-size?
    The minimum n-size is comparable to minimum cell size. It is a minimum number of students enrolled in a district to be used as the denominator when calculating either the risk for a racial group or the comparison group, which is students in all other racial groups. Ohio’s minimum n-size is 30. For example, a district has 490 White students enrolled out of 500 total students. This means that in any of the 14 risk ratio calculations for White students, the number of students in the comparison group (non-white) is 10, which is smaller than Ohio’s minimum n-size of 30. The state cannot calculate risk ratios for White students in this district.

    If a district does not meet the minimum cell or n-size for the comparison group, disproportionality regulations require than an alternate risk ratio be calculated. (See the discussion below.)

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    Why are minimum cell sizes and minimum n-sizes necessary?
    Small changes in small populations can result in large changes in risk ratios. These large changes do not necessarily suggest systemic problems causing significant disproportionality. Using minimum cell sizes and n-sizes reduces the possibility of districts inappropriately being identified as having significant disproportionality.

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    What is an alternate risk ratio?
    The alternate risk ratio is very similar to the risk ratio, which compares the likelihood that students in a given racial group will experience a particular outcome compared to the risk that students of all other races will experience that outcome in a district. The alternate risk ratio compares the risk of a racial group experiencing a particular outcome in a district to the risk of all other racial groups experiencing that outcome in the state. The alternate risk ratio uses the district-level risk for the racial group in the numerator and the state-level risk for the comparison group in the denominator. Ohio has set the minimum cell size at 10 and the minimum n-size at 30. If the racial group being analyzed meets the minimum cell and n-sizes but the district’s comparison group does not, an alternate risk ratio is calculated. If the racial group being analyzed meets the minimum cell and n-sizes but the state’s comparison group does not, the state will not calculate the alternate risk ratio.

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    When is an alternate risk ratio used?
    States are required to use an alternate risk ratio whenever the comparison group in a district does not meet the minimum cell size or minimum n-size set by the state.

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    Why is an alternate risk ratio necessary?
    When a district has too few students in the comparison group, the alternate risk ratio allows for a similar comparison, only the state population replaces the district population for the comparison group and produces results that are less volatile. Also, in racially homogenous districts and those with demographic characteristics markedly different from the state, there is a possibility that students in a racial group are identified, placed or disciplined at markedly higher rates than their peers. In these cases, the absence of a comparison group should not excuse either the state or the district from its responsibility under IDEA section 618(d) to identify and address significant disproportionality.

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    How can a racially homogenous district have disproportionality?

    In racially homogenous districts that do not enroll enough students of other races to form a comparison group, there is still a possibility that students in the district’s predominant racial group are identified for special education, placed in more restrictive settings, or disciplined at markedly higher rates than their peers. Federal regulations state that the absence of a comparison group in these cases should not excuse either the state or the district from its responsibility under IDEA section 618(d) to identify and address significant disproportionality.

    Districts with homogenous populations with too few students to form a comparison group must be compared to the state. States are required to use an alternate risk ratio when the comparison group in a district does not meet the minimum cell size or minimum n-size set by the state. The alternate risk ratio compares the risk of a racial group experiencing a particular outcome in a district to the risk of students of all other races in the state experiencing that outcome. The alternate risk ratio uses the district-level risk for the racial group in the numerator and the state-level risk for the comparison group in the denominator.
     
    For example, a predominantly White LEA enrolls about 80 percent White students with disabilities and places almost 15 percent of those White students with disabilities in separate settings. This LEA enrolls only 20 percent non-White students with disabilities and places fewer than 10 non-White students in separate settings, so a regular risk ratio cannot be calculated. This LEA does not have enough students of other races in the comparison group and must be compared to the state as a whole with the alternate risk ratio. Statewide, about 3 percent of White students with disabilities are placed in separate settings. When the LEA-level risk of 15 percent is compared to (divided by) the state-level risk of 3 percent, the resulting risk ratio is 5.00. This LEA is five times more likely than the state as a whole to place White students with disabilities in separate settings. It’s important for this LEA to explore and address the factors contributing to this disproportionality. When students with disabilities in this LEA are significantly more likely to be placed in restrictive settings compared to students in the rest of the state, they face inequitable access to instruction in the general education environment with their typically developing peers. Over time, this inequitable access often leads to inequitable outcomes.
     

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    Under what circumstances are states not required to calculate either a risk ratio or an alternate risk ratio in a district?
    States are required to calculate a risk ratio for all districts and community schools that meet the minimum cell and n-size. The following are exceptions to this requirement:
    • If a district’s racial group does not meet either the cell or n-size, a risk ratio is not calculated.
    • If a district’s comparison group does not meet either the cell or n-size, a risk ratio is not calculated using the district comparison group. Instead, an alternate risk ratio is calculated and the district-level risk for that racial group is compared to the state-level risk for that racial group.
    • If the state’s comparison group does not meet the cell or n-size, a risk ratio is not calculated.

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    How is enrollment calculated for significant disproportionality calculations?
    Disproportionality methodology calculates enrollment using full-time equivalency (FTE). For identification and placement, students with full-time equivalency at the legal district of residence for the student are included in the calculations. The legal district of residence is responsible for providing free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for the students. If the student is enrolled, attending and has FTE with a community school, then the community school becomes the district responsible for providing FAPE for the student. For discipline, students’ full-time equivalency and discipline events count with the district of service (i.e., the district administering the discipline). The full-time equivalency for each student in the calculation is summed for a total full-time equivalency for the LEA.

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    When do risk ratios include students in the district of residence versus district of service?
    For identification and placement categories, students are counted as part of their district of residence. For discipline categories, students are counted as part of the district that administered the discipline, which is the district of service.

    The identification and placement calculations include students attending the legal district of residence, with enrollment calculated based on full-time equivalency, or FTE. The legal district of residence is responsible for providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for these students.
     
    If a student is enrolled, is attending and has a full-time equivalency with a community school, the community school becomes the district responsible for providing a free and appropriate public education for the student. Students are included if the educational relationship between the student and district reported on the EMIS Student Standing record is (1), indicating the student is receiving instruction, in whole or in part, from the reporting district, and the student has not been withdrawn with a withdrawal code of 81 (i.e., student reported in error).

    Students who are attending another district under an open enrollment program are reported by both the district of residence and district of service. The district of residence will report a district relationship of (3), meaning that the district is responsible for reporting the student but is not educating or providing services to the student. The district of residence will point to the district educating and serving the student. The district of service for the student will report the student in EMIS, as normal.

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    How is the district of service impacted by career centers, educational service centers, and county boards of developmental disabilities?
    Students are counted at the legal district of residence for identification for special education and placement. For discipline, students are counted at the district of service (i.e., the district that administers the discipline).

    Students enrolled in career centers, educational service centers, and county boards of developmental disabilities schools are counted at their legal district of residence for disproportionality in identification and placement. County boards of developmental disabilities do not directly report data to EMIS and do not receive Special Education Profiles. Disciplinary actions administered by career centers and educational service centers are not included in disproportionality calculations as career centers and ESCs do not receive Special Education Profiles.
     

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    What are the similarities and differences between Indicator 4 and disproportionality methodology?

    Indicator 4 methodology has been updated to align with disproportionality to the extent possible. This means calculations for Indicator 4, identification (Indicators 9 and 10), placement, and discipline all reflect the three most recent years of data and use the minimum cell size of 10 and n-size of 30.

    • Indicator 4 measures discrepancies in the rate of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of greater than 10 cumulative days between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.
      • Indicator 4a compares discipline rates for all students with disabilities to all students without disabilities.
      • Indicator 4b compares discipline rates for all students with disabilities within a racial group to all students without disabilities.
    • Disproportionality in identification for special education, or Indicators 9 and 10, includes all students, such that the risk of students in one racial group identified as having a disability is compared to the risk of students of all other races identified as having a disability.
    • Disproportionality in placement and discipline includes only students with disabilities, such that the risk of students with disabilities in one racial group placed in a more restrictive educational setting or disciplined is compared to the risk of students with disabilities of all other races placed in a more restrictive educational setting or disciplined.
    • Like Indicator 4, disproportionality in discipline considers out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of greater than 10 cumulative days. However, disproportionality in discipline also considers four other discipline categories, including out-of-school suspensions and expulsions of fewer than 10 cumulative days, in-school suspensions of greater than 10 cumulative days, in-school suspensions of fewer than 10 cumulative days, and total disciplinary removals.
    • Disproportionality methodology for identification, placement, and discipline consider reasonable progress and require alternate risk ratios and redirection of funds. Indicator 4 methodology includes none of these.
    • The indicator review process for Indicator 4 and disproportionality in discipline are very similar, with the exception of redirection of funds, which only applies to disproportionality in identification, placement, and discipline.

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    Is economic disadvantage data included in the calculation of significant disproportionality?
    The focus of the new significant disproportionality requirements is racial equity. Currently, these requirements include only the identification, educational placement and discipline of students with disabilities who identify with one of the following racial groups: American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, Multiracial, Pacific Islander or White.

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    Are all students included in the calculations for each category of significant disproportionality?
    No. All students are included in the calculations for identification, while only students with disabilities are considered in the calculations for placement and discipline.

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    What are the new categories of disproportionality for discipline?
    The U.S. Department of Education has revised the IDEA regulations to further address significant disproportionality, which occurs when students in a specific racial group are identified for special education, placed in more restrictive settings or disciplined at markedly higher rates than their peers. The new regulations expand the discipline categories states must calculate for significant disproportionality, to include:
    1. In-school suspensions of 10 days or fewer;
    2. In-school suspensions of more than 10 days; and
    3. Total disciplinary removals.
    In-school suspensions count as “removals” for each of these disproportionality categories. Other categories measured for disproportionality include out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.
     

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    If a student is taken out of a general education classroom to receive proactive/preventative behavioral support, how much time does a student have to be out to be considered a removal?

    If a student is removed for disruptive behavior and returned to class once the student has calmed down this would not count as a disciplinary removal if the student received therapy or education during the time out of general education classroom. However, if the student is removed with no educational or therapeutic component, then the removal would count as a partial day. The LEA must keep track of the hours outside of the classroom in order to report full-time equivalency (FTE).

    For disproportionality, time spent outside of the classroom for disciplinary reasons is calculated by summing the full-time equivalency (FTE) for each discipline event.

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    If multiple discipline reasons are reported for one disciplinary incident, does each reason count for more than one discipline event?

    Through the Education Management Information System (EMIS), LEAs may report up to five discipline reasons for each discipline incident, with the primary reason reported in the First Reason Element and no reasons reported more than once for the same incident. Disciplinary reasons are not factored into discipline discrepancy or disproportionality calculations. Rather, the cumulative number of days in full-time equivalency (FTE) for each discipline event type (i.e., in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion) is considered. Disproportionality calculations consider discipline events regardless of how reasons are reported.

    For example, a student with a disability receives three days out-of-school suspension for discipline reason elements 1 (truancy), 4 (vandalism/damage to school or personal property), and 8 (use, possession, sale or distribution of any explosive, incendiary or poison gas). This counts as three days of out-of-school suspension regardless of the number of reasons reported.

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    What is a manifestation determination review?
    A manifestation determination review is required when the educational placement of a student with a disability is changed due to discipline. According to IDEA, a change of placement occurs if a student is removed from his or her regular, IEP-defined placement for more than 10 consecutive days or for a series of removals that constitute a pattern that totals more than 10 cumulative days in a school year.
     
    The manifestation determination review is conducted by the IEP team. The purpose of the manifestation determination is for the IEP team to come together and review all relevant information to determine if the child’s behavior is a manifestation of the child’s disability. If the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the disability, the IEP team must conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and develop and implement a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) for the student.
     

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    When do in-school suspensions count as removals toward a manifestation determination review?
    A manifestation determination review is required when a student’s educational placement is changed because of discipline. A change of placement occurs if a student is removed from his or her regular, individualized education program-defined placement for more than 10 consecutive days or for a series of removals that constitute a pattern that totals more than 10 cumulative days in a school year. Out-of-school suspensions always count as “removals.”
     
    In-school suspensions are defined as instances in which a school temporarily removes a student from his or her regular classroom or classrooms for disciplinary purposes, but the student remains under the direct supervision of school personnel. According to federal regulations, in-school suspensions do not count as “removals” toward a disciplinary change of placement under the following three circumstances:
    1. The student is given the opportunity to continue to participate in the general curriculum;
    2. The student continues to receive the services that are on his or her individualized education program (IEP); and
    3. The student continues to participate with nondisabled students to the extent he or she would have in his or her current placements.
    If any one of these circumstances are not met, the in-school suspension counts as a “removal” toward the 10 cumulative or consecutive days. School personnel decide case-by-case whether one of these circumstances exists.

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    When do in-school suspensions count as removals for data reporting?
    Though in-school suspensions do not count as “removals” toward a disciplinary change of placement if the three circumstances covered in the previous question are met, in-school suspensions always count as “removals” for state and federal discipline data reporting.

    Section 618 of IDEA requires states to provide data regarding discipline of students with disabilities. For this data collection, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs requires districts to count and report all in-school suspensions, including those that would not count as removals when determining if a manifestation determination review is required. The U.S. Department of Education collects data on all in-school suspensions to determine the extent to which schools remove students from their IEP placements for disciplinary reasons.

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    What EMIS codes are included in total removals? Are emergency removals included?
    Total cumulative days of discipline removals include in-school and out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, in-school alternate discipline classes, programs or buildings, emergency removal by district personnel, and removal by hearing officer. Discipline Element (GD070) codes included are: 
    • 1 – Expulsion 
    • 2 – Out-of-school Suspension 
    • 3 – In-school Suspension 
    • 4 – In-school Alternate Discipline Class/Program/Building 
    • 6 – Emergency Removal by District Personnel
    • 7 – Removal by a Hearing Officer 

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    What if our district or school uses a different term for “in-school suspensions”?
    All disciplinary removals that meet the definition of in-school suspensions must be reported as such in Ohio’s Education Management Information System (EMIS), even if a local district or school refers to them by a different name or term. The EMIS Manual defines in-school suspensions this way:

    In-school suspension is the suspension of the student’s normal instructional activities by the superintendent or a school principal due to discipline reasons. The student attends school but is assigned a special placement that allows him or her to do schoolwork but does not specifically address the behavior that resulted in discipline.

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    Are there resources available to help districts lower discipline rates for all students?
    Ohio’s strategic plan for education, Each Child, Our Future, explicitly recognizes the need for a positive climate in every school to support student well-being, academic achievement and future success. Most recently, Ohio enacted the Supporting Alternatives for Fair Education (SAFE) Act. It is one of the strongest state laws in the country addressing multi-tiered behavioral supports in the interest of reducing disciplinary referrals, especially for prekindergarten through grade 3 students. This bill strengthens support for school districts to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), social-emotional learning supports and trauma-informed practices. Strong and quality implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is an effective way to reduce discipline rates.

    The Ohio Department of Education continues to build and support statewide capacity to implement PBIS.
    • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a framework that guides districts and schools in in developing policies and practices that proactively define, teach and support appropriate behavior.
    • Schools implementing PBIS actively teach behavioral expectations across all environments, promote positive behavior through encouragement and reinforcement, and provide correction of inappropriate behavior through prompting, re-teaching and opportunities to correct behavior.
    • PBIS creates consistent, predictable learning environments that increase positive behavior and academic outcomes for each student.
    • Ohio schools implementing PBIS with fidelity have demonstrated noteworthy reductions in their rates of office discipline referrals, suspensions and expulsions. With these reductions, administrators and teachers have more time to focus on academic progress, students who previously were removed from the academic environment now spend more time receiving direct instruction, and decreased behavior distractions in the classroom increases academic instruction time for other students in the classroom.
    For more information on PBIS, including Ohio’s resources, network and assistance from state support teams, see http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Student-Supports/PBIS-Resources.
     

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    What if a district is flagged for significant disproportionality this year but not next year?
    The specified methodology requires a risk ratio threshold of higher than 2.50 in the same category of analysis for three consecutive years. If a district is flagged this year, its risk ratio would have been above 2.50 for each of school years 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. This district will be required to redirect 15 percent of funds to Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services and undergo a review of student records with the Office for Exceptional Children.

    If this same district is not flagged for significant disproportionality next year, either its risk ratio for the 2020-2021 school year did not exceed 2.50 or its risk ratio for the 2020-2021 school year exceeded 2.50 but the district met the reasonable progress provision by reducing its risk ratio by at least 0.25 from 18-19 to 19-20 and again from 19-20 to 20-21. In either case, the district will not be required to redirect funds or undergo a review of student records with the Office for Exceptional Children.

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    Will the new significant disproportionality regulations affect the annual Special Education Rating?
    Historically, significant disproportionality for identification (indicators 9 and 10) has been considered part of the overall calculation for compliance in a district’s Special Education Rating.

    Additionally, districts that have made data reporting errors specific to significant disproportionality and whose data appeals are approved by the Office for Exceptional Children will receive a lower score for timely and accurate data on the Special Education Rating.

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    Will the new significant disproportionality regulations affect Ohio’s annual determination from the Office of Special Education Programs?
    Not this year, though significant disproportionality likely will be considered in the future.

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    How will superintendents be notified of the significant disproportionality regulations?
    State Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction John Richard presented the requirements to all five meetings of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators in 2019. The Ohio Department of Education also published a link to a two-page overview of significant disproportionality to administrators in its weekly e-newsletter, EdConnection.

    All superintendents will receive their districts’ data for identification, placement and discipline, along with all other indicators with possible required actions, in the Special Education Profile of December 2020. This communication will also include links to all the explanatory documents about significant disproportionality.
     

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Indicator Review Process

    What specific actions are required under IDEA when a district is identified with significant disproportionality?
    According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, districts with significant disproportionality must:
    1. Undergo a review student records with the Office for Exceptional Children.
    2. Review their policies, procedures and practices related to identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities.
    3. Identify the factors that may be contributing to the significant disproportionality.
    4. Redirect 15 percent of their federal special education funds toward Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services designed to address the contributing factors, including professional development, educational and behavioral evaluations, services and supports.

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Review of Policies, Procedures and Practices

    How often must a district review and, if appropriate, revise policies, practices and procedures?
    A district must do the review and, if appropriate, revision every year it is identified as having significant disproportionality. Each district is notified of required action steps within its Special Education Profile.

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    What is the scope of the review and revision of policies, practices and procedures?
    All districts identified with significant disproportionality will undergo a review of student records with the Office for Exceptional Children. Districts will receive a Records for Review Excel file along with the district’s Special Education Profile that lists all the students included in the calculation for the category in which there is significant disproportionality. Districts must review the student records and provide documentation of student records specific to each category to the Office for Exceptional Children.

    Any district that made a data reporting error may submit a Data Appeals Form. If the data appeal is approved, the district will complete a portion of the Self-Review Summary Report and an Improvement Plan for data reporting. If the Office for Exceptional Children approves the data appeal, the district will not be required to redirect 15 percent of its funds to Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services.

    All other districts flagged with significant disproportionality will complete a Self-Review Summary Report and Improvement Plan and are required to redirect 15 percent of funds to Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services. Districts will submit records to document individual and systemic correction.

    All documents and deadlines for submission will be linked within the Special Education Profile.

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    Can districts appeal their disproportionality data?
    Yes. Districts may appeal their disproportionality data for any of the three years included in the calculation. A district must submit a Data Appeals Form and student records documenting the data reporting errors. If the Office for Exceptional Children approves the data appeal, the district will submit Section A of the Self-Review Summary Report. Once the office approves the report, the district will submit an Improvement Plan for data reporting. The district will be required to submit documentation showing it has completed all Improvement Plan activities. Every district with data reporting errors will lose one point on its Special Education Rating for Timely and Accurate Data.

    All documents and submission deadlines will be linked within the Special Education Profile.

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    What are the requirements for districts that are flagged with significant disproportionality and have compliant records?
    All districts identified with significant disproportionality will undergo a review of student records with the Office for Exceptional Children. The districts each will receive a Records for Review Excel file via the Special Education Profile that lists all the students included in the calculation for the category in which there is significant disproportionality. Each district must review the student records and provide documentation of student records specific to each category to the Office for Exceptional Children.

    If the Office for Exceptional Children notifies the district that its records are compliant, the district must complete Section B of the Self-Review Summary Report for the category that was flagged with significant disproportionality. The Office for Exceptional Children must approve the Self-Review Summary Report before the district takes further action.

    If the Office for Exceptional Children approves the Self-Review Summary Report, the district will complete an Improvement Plan to address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality. The district will implement the activities in the Improvement Plan using its redirected funds. The activities in the Improvement Plan must align to the allowable use of funds for Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services.

    All documents and deadlines will be linked within the Special Education Profile.

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    What are the requirements for districts flagged with significant disproportionality with noncompliant records?
    All districts identified with significant disproportionality will undergo a review of student records with the Office for Exceptional Children. The districts each will receive a Records for Review Excel file via the Special Education Profile that lists all the students included in the calculation for the category in which there is significant disproportionality. Each district must review the student records and provide documentation of student records specific to each category to the Office for Exceptional Children.

    If the Office for Exceptional Children notifies the district that its records are compliant, the district must complete Section B of the Self-Review Summary Report for the category that was flagged with significant disproportionality. The Office for Exceptional must approve the Self-Review Summary Report before the district takes further action.

    If the Office for Exceptional Children approves the Self-Review Summary Report, the district will complete an Improvement Plan to address the factors contributing to significant disproportionality. The district will implement the activities in the Improvement Plan using its redirected funds. The activities in the Improvement Plan must align to the allowable use of funds for Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services.

    Districts with noncompliant records are required to demonstrate individual and systemic correction. Districts will provide documentation of student records demonstrating that each individual student’s records on which the calculation was based has been corrected to demonstrate individual correction. Districts will submit additional student records to demonstrate systemic correction.

    All documents, deadlines and additional details will be linked within the Special Education Profile.

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    Why is completing the root cause analysis as a team important?
    The root cause analysis is most effective when the review team includes representatives from both special education and general education and specifically building principals, general education teachers, and central office administrators. Disproportionality is not solely a special education issue and cannot be meaningfully addressed without ownership by and collaboration with general education partners and building and district leaders.

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    When is an LEA considered to no longer have significant disproportionality?

    A district or community school is no longer considered to have significant disproportionality in a given category when one of two conditions are met:

    • (1)   the state’s annual calculation of the LEA’s risk ratio falls at or below the 2.50 threshold for the most recent year in the three-year calculation; or

    • (2)   the state’s annual calculation of the LEA’s risk ratio exceeds the 2.50 threshold for all three years but is at least 0.25 lower than the previous year’s risk ratio for two consecutive years (i.e., reasonable progress is met).

    While Ohio’s threshold is 2.50, any risk ratio above 1.00 means there is disproportionality within the LEA. Even with risk ratios at or below 2.50, LEAs are strongly encouraged to continue working with their state support team to ensure students of all races are treated equitably in their schools and communities.

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Redirection of Funds

    If LEAs are notified of significant disproportionality in December, is redirection of funds due the same school year?
    Special Education Profiles will be released in December 2020. LEAs with significant disproportionality will be required to redirect funds in their Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Plans (CCIPs) for the fiscal year following the notification date; in this case, the 2021-2022 school year (FY22).

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    If an LEA is already using 15 percent of funds for early intervening services, does that 15 percent get reallocated or does another 15 percent get pulled?

    States are required to examine districts annually for significant disproportionality. Redirection of funds as a result of significant disproportionality is considered on a yearly basis. If an LEA is notified of significant disproportionality in the 2020-2021 Special Education Profile in December, that LEA must redirect 15 percent of funds to comprehensive coordinated early intervening services for the 2021-2022 school year (FY22) regardless of how their funds were previously allocated.

    If the same LEA is notified of significant disproportionality in the 2021-2022 Special Education Profile, that LEA must again redirect 15 percent of funds for the 2022-2023 school year (FY23).
    If the LEA has significant disproportionality in more than one category, that LEA is required to redirect 15 percent of funds, but must address all categories through the root cause analysis, improvement plan, and use of funds.

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    If a district is identified in multiple disproportionality categories, will the redirected funds cumulate (15 percent + 15 percent) or will it cap at 15 percent regardless of the number of categories?
    Redirection of funds is not cumulative. Only one 15 percent redirection is required. However, if an LEA has more than one finding of significant disproportionality, the redirection should address activities for all findings.
     

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Last Modified: 12/11/2020 12:14:02 PM