Go beyond the stereotypes in special education

Special education. The phrase, unfortunately, can conjure up lots of stereotypes. But the Center’s new report, “Special education: A better perspective,” offers a compelling look at who special education students are and what we can expect of them.

Some highlights:

  • The special education population has grown from 5 percent of the student population in 1976 to 9 percent in 2006.
  • This growth has occured mainly in categories such as “specific learning disabilities,” which includes diagnoses like ADHD. Categories for more severe disabilities, for example “traumatic brain injury,” have stayed largely unchanged.
  • Almost half of special education students spend 80 percent of their day in a regular classroom.
  • Most of IDEA’s categories do not indicate that the student has a mental handicap. Instead, they indicate that without special services, there is a gap between students’ achievement and ability.

With all of these facts, what can we expect of special education students? How well are they achieving? And what works to raise their achievment? Read the report to find out. –Rebecca St. Andrie

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