Congress 2002 and Education Misidentification

It is useful to establish a Correct Identification rate for special education placements. A speculative estimate is 75%. Biologically-based disabilities are more likely judged correctly. Test-based disabilities are more likely to be judged incorrectly.

Congress identified three types of misidentification:

“Under-identification — that is, failing to identify children who have disabilities and need special education to succeed in school;

Over-identification — that is, classifying students with disabilities they do not have; and

Late identification — that is, delaying identification of students with disabilities until later in their schooling when special education services may be less effective” (Congress Report).

Proposed is a fourth type, Sequence Misidentification, defined as errors of judgment made during transition periods from early intervention to preschool to elementary school.

A fetal alcohol syndrome child can exhibit all the symptoms of the early eligibility criteria of Part C. FAS children can end up in Other Health Impairment, Speech and Language Impairment, Learning Disability, and so forth.

“Classification is the halfway house of science,” it is said. Data collection for the five identification categories described above would go a long way toward pinpointing identification successes and failures. Let’s say this is a research gap.

In 2002, the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education reported:

“The Commission finds that the IDEA establishes complex requirements that are difficult to effectively implement at the state and local level. Nowhere in IDEA is this more complex than in the eligibility determination process. Improving this process, coupled with research-based early intervention programs, may reduce the number of children who are identified as having a disability, particularly when early identification and intervention are in place and research-based interventions are provided before referral” (Commission).

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