School Speech Therapy, Pull Out, and LRE

The Massachusetts Department of Education in 2008 published a report by Matthew Deninger on the disproportionality of special education placements in the Commonwealth. Data are pulled apart in ways to expose patterns.  

Figure 5 shows a bias to place minority children in more restrictive environments outside the regular classroom.  White children are more likely to be placed in the regular classroom (full inclusion 80%) than African American and Hispanic children.  African American and Hispanic children are much more likely to be placed in substantially separate (40% in the classroom) locations.  At this time there is little reason to believe that this pattern of misplacement is different across America.

Deninger sites research indicating special education children receive a less demanding instruction.  Once placed in special education, they are less likely to be dismissed.

Education theory, federal regulation and best practice are not the only factors involved in placement.  Not only are minorities more likely to be placed in special education; they are more likely to receive more restrictive placements.

The issue of Least Restrictive Environment in school SLP practice is neglected.  It is not a “hot topic” of speech pathology professional concern. 

In the post, “Death of the Pullout Model,” we think the evidence indicates the pull-out approach is so widely employed in American schools SLI intervention is  overly restrictive in likely thousands of cases.  Direct intervention is effective, but so are other methods such as reading-based approaches associated with response to intervention.

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