Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Raymond DiGiuseppe aggression in school disproportionality school psychology special education

Second Advisor

Mark Terjesen

Third Advisor

Beverly Greene


Though there is an awareness of African American students being disproportionally overrepresented in special education, research is limited in the examination of the role of race on how school psychologists and special education decision-makers perceive and make educational decisions. The present study examined the perception of 547 practicing school psychologists and special education decision-makers who were randomly assigned to a video vignette (African American or White male child) displaying the same aggressive behavior in a classroom and were asked to report on the intensity of the aggressive behavior, view of the behavior as a problem, perception of academic functioning, utility of interventions, potential special education decision-making, as well as demographic variables. The results indicated participants who viewed the video with the African American child reported rating the behavior as .474 more of a problem, more likely perceive academic functioning to be below grade and would more likely follow up with interventions other than an observation (e.g., applied behavior analysis, behavior rating scale, etc.) compared to White, same-aged peers. Results also suggested participants of a different racial/ethnic makeup than the child in the video vignette more often rated the male child’s academic functioning to be below grade level compared to those of the same racial/ethnic match. Limitations and implications for the practice of school psychology are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons