4. Special Education Overidentification 2011: Learning Disability

Another “cause” of over enrollment in special education is the disproportionate placement of learning-disabled children. Cortiella: “there’s been an alarming increase in the numbers of students served in the LD category of IDEA. Of the 6 million children in special education, half of those are identified as having a “specific learning disability,” and the number has grown more than 300 percent since 1976. Policy makers have consistently expressed concern about the substantial number of students being served as LD under IDEA (now roughly 6 percent of all school-age children)”.

Debate prior to the reauthorization of IDEA 2004 brought critics to imply that specific learning disability (SLD) is a waste basket category, one involving fundamental misdiagnosis. This places the spotlight right on SLPs and school psychologists, because they are the gatekeepers conducting placement evaluations. SLPs are involved where there are symptoms of oral language deficit. Psychologists are involved where psychometrics determine placement. Many children are qualified as SLD who should not be.

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