Is special education a kind of classification game?

Assume that there is a finite number of at-risk children who fumble and stumble along in need of extra help somehow.

Does it matter how these children are classified?

Is the diagnostic prescriptive model simply passe? It seems so. The science of child intervention now emphasizes similar behavioral and cognitive principles for many areas of disability.

Learning is learning is learning.

Under-, over-, and late- identification errors do not increase or reduce the number of children who need help. It does move them around programmatically, and this might be some kind of advantage for school personnel.

For example, what do you do with a boy who has to repeat first grade? This is an under-identfied group (males). But the problems of how to help boys catch up remain the same. Does classification make a difference?

Some argue against classification: (1) expectations are lower for special education children; (2) a stigma attaches to special education status.

Think of all the time and money Congress puts into trying to solve the problem of “misidentification.”

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