Public Policy and Over-identification

Special education “best practices” are partly directed by federal mandates, i.e., IDEA 2004.

Professional organizations can advocate for service roles adding to statutory requirements but they should support the law. These organizations should advocate for reducing misidentification: “The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD), Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD), International Dyslexia Association (IDA), International Reading Association (IRA), Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), National Education Association (NEA), School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA).”

Every school district’s (LEA) special education department monitored by a state agency (SEA) must work to reduce and avoid the misidentication of at-risk school children to protect against FAPE violations. Every employee must do the same.

IDEA-2004 promotes the use of scientific foundations for special education practices. Science provides an ethical foundation for “best practices.” Debate before reauthorization of IDEA 1997 brought forth scientific information to suggest that over-identification was contributing to increases in special education enrollments, and therefore to increases in systematic FAPE violations. At the core is a child’s civil rights, and for some this is an ethical matter.

It is not best practice for special educators and related services personnel to misidentify non-disabled children. It is up to the individual to consider the ethics, improve and lead others.

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