Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


Teachers could be referring students based on where the student lives or what background he or she comes from rather than on educational needs. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the biases and experiences of elementary teachers affect whom they refer or whom they do not refer for special education. All of the subjects in this study are teachers from a small suburban school district in Western New York. According to the findings of this study, teachers tended to refer the male student with behavior problems more often than the students with severe academic needs. Teachers in this study also referred the male student with behavior problems more often when they were not able to recognize specific characteristics of disabilities consistently. If teachers are aware of the impact that their biases can have on the referral process, the process could become more reliable.