Under the headline, “Schools turn to intervention: Program aims to prevent kids from being rushed into special education,” Lisa Singleton-Rickman of the Times Daily (of northwestern Alabama, US) reported about local schools’ use of response-to-intervention procedures.
School districts across the country are adopting early intervention programs in hopes of steering some children away from expensive special education classes.
While it’s a cost savings to the system, the payoff comes mainly for the student who, through intervention from the school, won’t be among those identified as in need of special education.
The adoption of such programs, known as Response to Intervention, is catching on across the country as school districts are trying to cut down on over-identification – too many children being shunted off to special education who don’t need to be there. This year, there were 84,772 special education students in Alabama schools. The cost to educate a student through a special education program can be twice as much as a general education student, up to $12,000 a year.
Ms. Singleton-Rickman reported that the local education agency realized substantial savings because of a reduction in the number of students identified as having disabilities. There are a couple of questions about this finding that are worthy of examination:
- The reduction in students served (from 14.9 to 12.7 percent) has occurred over the past three years, but it’s not clear how long the RtI process has been employed or whether the reduction is specifically in the targeted category of Learning Disabilities.
- In one of the LEAs, “nearly 7 1/2 percent of the school district’s funds is dedicated to special education. In that district, special education numbers were up this year from 170 to 225 students”; one has to wonder whether that 225 students represent more of fewer than 7.5% of the school population.
Link to Ms. Singleton-Rickman’s article.