Learning/emotional disability: Links to self-perception and self -worth
Burton, Cheryl Ann
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There have been long-standing, concerns about possible negative effects of the special education experience on student recipients. Specifically parents of Black students have voiced their concern that their children's self-worth is ultimately compromised.;This quantitative study explored their concern by comparing the global self-worth and self-perceived abilities of Black, Hispanic, and White students with disability classifications of learning disabled and emotionally disturbed, as well as those who have no disability classification.;Harter's Self-Perception Profile for Children (1985) and Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (1988) were self-administered to 226 students in grades 7 through 12. It assessed their competence in areas of skill and ability, and their rating of the importance of these areas. They identified peers to whom were they comparing themselves while answering items describing their abilities and skills. It was expected that their level of global self-worth would be influenced in part by their choice of reference peer (e.g., the more similar the attributes between the subject and his peer, the higher his global self-worth).;Although there was evidence that non-classified students, regardless of race, tend to have higher global self-worth, there was no clear pattern indicating that Black students classified learning disabled or emotionally disturbed have lower global self-worth. In fact, their global self worth scores were higher, when compared with White students of similar classifications. Hispanic students classified emotionally disturbed had the highest global self-worth scores when compared to classified and non-classified students. Expectations of low global self-worth were not supported; however, the findings suggest that other dynamics such as ratings of importance of skills and abilities, and choice of reference peer, play a significant part in the determination of ones' self-worth.;Black students and their parents can benefit from the results of this study which indicate some factors that enhance self-worth despite special education placement.;Although this study did not provide strong empirical evidence that supports parental concerns of lowered self-worth of Black children receiving special education services, the over-representation of Black students in special educational programs, as well as the tendency toward their long term placement, give cause for further exploration of these concerns.