In a past post, we identified 50 reasons for special overidentification of at-risk children in American schools. It was a quick gloss. But it did show the causes of overidentification (misidentification, under-identification) range from the macro level to the micro. Congress enacts laws affecting 100,000 schools, and errors are made. IEP groups at the final moment of decision somehow interpret their missions to include liberal identification of struggling children. They place non-disabled minority children. From congress to your local IEP team, there is constant pressure downward on the system to ignore the laws and regulations and carry out some kind of social imperative
The recent history of American special education is that too many children have been placed. Here are assorted reasons mentioned in policy debates. Involved are special education teachers, physical therapists, reading specialists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, recreation therapists and regular teachers.
1. There were federal financial incentives to enroll children in special education.
2. Professional misdiagnosis.
3. Variations of state and local policies and regulations.
4. General education deficiencies in providing programs for at-risk children.
5. Use of special education as a remedial service for general education.
6. Over-use of the learning disability category.
7. Placement of more males than females.
8. Over-placement of minority pupils.
9. Limited special teaching skills of general education teachers.
10. Lack of pre-referral early intervention programs.
11. Over-lapping disability symptoms.
12. Referral of hard-to-teach children to special education.
13. Attorneys assisting parents with placement decisions.
14. Lack of variety of valid testing procedures.
15. Over-use of the IQ-discrepancy model.
16. Under-identification of some disabilities.
17. Administrative pressures to place.
18. Late identification of children with learning disabilities.
19. State-to-state variation in eligibility criteria.
20. Special education placement of limited English pupils.
21. Parent pressures for special education services.
22. IEP bias toward MOST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT.
23. Changing program criteria from early intervention to preschool to elementary.
24. Misevaluation of poor, health-at-risk and migrant children.
25. Inadequate personnel preparation for linguistic and cultural differences.
26. Failure of states historically to reduce misidentifications.
27. Continuing misidentification of children already placed in special education.
28. Inadequate school programs for limited English children.
29. Over-concern of administrators with procedural compliance.
30. Shifting intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic and cognitive symptoms over the first eight years of life.
31. Inadequate early reading instruction for at-risk children.
32. Inadequate school-based training programs for teachers and special education specialists.
33. Prejudice against children with racial, linguistic and cultural differences.
34. Lack of strong advocacy by professional organizations to reduce over-identification.
35. A lack of local leadership to reduce over-identification.
35. Insufficient monitoring of transfer IEPs for incomplete, out-of-date and incorrect records.
36. No Child Left Behind pressures for high performance.
37. Bias operating in IEP teams.
38. Poor communication with parents to disclose the risks of special education placement.
39. Over-placement of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children.
40. Misplacement of emotionally disturbed children.
41. Need for remedial reading specialists to evaluate for early disabilities.
42. Inadequate numbers of specialists to make proper evaluations.
43. Inadequate long-term local record-keeping on the characteristics of at-risk and special education pupils.
44. More research on how eligibility determinations are made at the local level.
45. Inadequate staff training for the proper use of eligibility criteria.
46. Quick referrals (45 days) to special education without prior child study.
47. Classifying children too early without trial intervention.
48. Inadequate advocacy by state agencies to reduce over-identification.
49. Inadequate resources targeted at reducing over-identification.
50. Inadequate data on how placements are made, how they vary, and who is involved.
There are macro variables operating which confound all the programmatic processes.
51. Status-quo thinking in Washington D. C. There are problems in special education which should be left alone even though there is regulatory power to take bold action.
52. Systems limitations. The U. S. Government has difficulty managing complex regulatory standards and a large part of the problem is defective computer systems.
53. Non educators throwing money at education to make changes fitting a narrow belief system. Common Core is example.
John M. Panagos