Understanding and Addressing Racial/ Ethnic Disability Disparities Using a Public Health Perspective

Principal Investigator: Paul Morgan | | The Pennsylvania State University


Minority schoolchildren are reported to be disproportionately over-represented in special education. Yet Dr. Morgan’s work finds this not to be the case. Instead, following extensive covariate adjustment, he and his colleagues repeatedly find that minority schoolchildren are under-identified as disabled and so less likely than otherwise similar White, English-speaking children to receive special education services. Because these findings are directionally consistent with under-diagnosis and -treatment of minorities reported by public health researchers, Dr. Morgan is using a Spencer Midcareer Grant to increase his theoretical understanding of health disparities as well as his knowledge of the diverse methodologies used to investigate and reduce these disparities. Dr. Morgan is doing so over one year’s time through on-going interactions and collaborations with (a) public health faculty at the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions (HCHDS), Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health, and (b) school counseling and leadership faculty at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education. These collaborations, which Dr. Morgan is facilitating through online coursework and independent readings while not at Johns Hopkins, should help advance the education field’s currently limited understanding of how individual-, family-, health care system-, school-, and community-level factors interact to result in racial/ethnic disparities in school-based disability identification and how these disparities might be better addressed.,

Grant Type:

Midcareer Grant

Grant Amount:




Topic / Subject:

Race/Ethnicity, Special Education, Policy

Methods / Approach:

Evaluation Research, Experimental, Focus Groups, Ethnographic research, Multi-level models (e.g., HLM), Case Studies, Survey/Questionnaire, Interviews, Observational research, Multivariate regression analysis/other regression analysis

Disciplinary Perspective:

Public Policy, PsychologySocial, Psychiatry, PsychologyDevelopmental, Sociology, Human Development, Education, Other