Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Learning Disabilities


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


Shuff, Margaret M.


Children with mental disabilities--Education


Disability and Equity in Education


The purpose of this study was to review current practices of Child Study Teams when classifying a student as perceptually impaired in order to determine if children are being misclassified, and also to determine if strict guidelines will really lower the numbers of children being classified as perceptually impaired. A second purpose was to survey districts as to what programs they currently have in place in order to discourage students from dropping out of high school.

A survey/questionnaire was sent to 22 Directors of Special Services in a given county. A total of 12 districts responded, representing a participation rate of 55%. The participating districts represented a variety of district factor groupings and included four high schools. The survey form included questions on: demographic information; the district's policy to determine "severe discrepancy;" the use of functional override; prediction rates of classified students and high school dropouts if a strict adherence to a discrepancy formula were followed; and programs to address the resulting problems of such a situation as well as programs already offered to discourage students from dropping out.

This study proved that eligibility criteria do vary from district to district. However, it appears that many Child Study Teams do look for a statistical level of significance when classifying a child as perceptually impaired and do not employ the use of a functional override as often as may be implied by the Office of Special Education. The sample of high schools surveyed did offer a variety of programs to discourage dropping out of high school, yet some rates were as high as 13.7%, suggesting that perhaps our current approach to education needs some major reform.