Is the underidentifying of students with special needs a problem in your school district? What are some of the reasons that students have been denied special education evaluations and/or services? These are just two of the key questions in a survey we are launching today on special education services. You can take the survey here.
A recent series of investigative news articles by the Houston Chronicle examined the impacts on students from a TEA “target” (what some called a “cap” or “benchmark”) on enrollment in special education services.
The cap appears in TEA’s performance-based monitoring system and has been construed as a mandate by school districts. Partly as a result of this TEA guidance, special-ed enrollment statewide has fallen from roughly 12 percent in 2004 to exactly 8.5 percent (the benchmark set by TEA) in 2015—the lowest rate of any state.
A widespread outcry against the state policy has developed thanks to investigative reporting by the Houston Chronicle that uncovered many examples of what certainly looks like an arbitrary denial of services based on nothing more than adherence to the percentage of students a district should enroll in special education.
We encourage special education teachers, parents of special needs children, or anyone working in schools with knowledge of special education to take the survey so that we gauge the prevalence of service denials and identify other concerns with the assessment of students who may need special education services. Your anonymous responses will be used by our special education task force to look at possible recommendations for policy changes and/or legislation.