Monday, July 15, 2002


In Indiana enrollment in special education rose 72 percent over the last twenty years, while general enrollment fell by less than 1 percent. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, for example, almost 70 percent of black students classified with mild mental disability were also in the free-lunch program.

No big surprise here. The analysis concludes that there is a tendency to place children in special education because there are no other options for extra services for these kids. The article neglects to mention a more obvious reason for over-identification. These kids represent a twofer for state and federal dollars. They receive both special education dollars and extra Title I dollars based on their free-lunch status. There are no federal exclusion rules that prevent students from being counted in more than one funding stream. Yet, only one marginal intervention, like a few minutes of extra reading instruction, can satisfy both federal programs. In essence, these kids pull in double funding with few extra instructional services in exchange for the money.

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