American Sociological Association

Stigma of a Label Educational Expectations for High School Students Labeled with Learning Disabilities

Poorer outcomes for youth labeled with learning disabilities (LDs) are often attributed to the student’s own deficiencies or cumulative disadvantage; but the more troubling possibility is that special education placement limits rather than expands these students’ opportunities. Labeling theory partially attributes the poorer outcomes of labeled persons to stigma related to labels. This study uses data on approximately 11,740 adolescents and their schools from the Education Longitudinal Survey of 2002 to determine if stigma influences teachers’ and parents’ educational expectations for students labeled with LDs and labeled adolescents’ expectations for themselves. Supporting the predictions of labeling theory, teachers and parents are more likely to perceive disabilities in, and hold lower educational expectations for labeled adolescents than for similarly achieving and behaving adolescents not labeled with disabilities. The negative effect of being labeled with LDs on adolescents’ educational expectations is partially mechanized through parents’ and particularly teachers’ lower expectations.

Authors

Dara Shifrer

Volume

54

Issue

4

Starting Page

462

Ending Page

480