Special Education M.A.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Strand, Charles

Second Reader

Karin Farrington;


Exploring the impact of socioeconomic status and poverty on African American students with special needs has shown that poverty is a global issue that has an impact on children's academic ability. In the United States, about one-quarter of all children are born into poverty. Poverty increases the likelihood of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents. Stress affects children from low-income families, preventing their brains from completely developing. This thesis is a review of scholarly research on the impact of socioeconomic status on African American students with special needs and its relation to special education. Through this research, a theory can be offered that minority students are more likely to be poor, and being poor increases their exposure to risk factors that compromise human development and raise the need for special services, according to various studies. Students with disabilities have a poverty percentage that is more than double that of students without disabilities (27 percent vs. 12 percent). Disability and poverty have a complex relationship, but people with disabilities are more likely to become impoverished, while poor people are more likely to have or develop a disability. People with disabilities are more likely to be excluded from employment, have restricted educational possibilities, or experience institutional barriers that limit their educational and career opportunities. For those with and without impairments, the poverty rate differs by race. Nearly 40% of African Americans with disabilities are poor, compared to 24% of non-Hispanic whites, 29% of Latinos, and 19% of Asians. People of color with disabilities appear to be disproportionately marginalized, discriminated against, and stigmatized, resulting in poor socioeconomic outcomes.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis