WAMC News
6:10 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Study Examines Special Education Programs in Massachusetts

The study was called for by Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The goal was to find the effects of special education programs in Massachusetts, and examine why the state has such a high rate of students being included in special ed programs – 17%. The results of the study, which were presented at a special meeting of the state board of Elementary and Secondary Education showed that average number of 17% can be highly variable among school districts. Commissioner Chester…

Chester continued that the study went on to show that low income schools often have a percentage of students in special ed programs than higher income school districts.

The study debunks a myth that wealthier parents in higher-income school districts put more pressure on schools to include their children in special education programs – a kind of “overcorrection” in the education process.

Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents said that lower-income schools may include more children in special education programs because the districts do not have the resources to address all students’ needs in the conventional classroom. This could point to an inflation of the number.

The study also found that when students with special needs are excluded from normal classroom activity, their level of academic achievement can drop. Commissioner Chester…

Students with a wide range of disabilities are considered for special ed programs.

The study recommended that state education officials stop over-identifying special needs students and keep special education programs as for students with disabilities only, as well as encouraging classroom integration.

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