Monthly Archives: November 2011

Preschool Over-identification in Special Education

Several of our posts emphasize the importance of preschool education to prevent the over-identification of at-risk children for special education placement.  E.g.:

SLPs Can Lead Over-identification Preschool

Prevention Programs

Mr. Chang, swan-goose and friend, Lakeside, Arizona


A legal case in Washington, D.C., as reported in the Washington Post by , is related to special education identification issues.

 ( specialeducation /2011/11/16/ gIQA5NHgSN _story.html)

Blackman v. District

In 1997, according to  IDEA regulations, litigation was brought in Blackman v. The District of Columbia, complaining the District of Columbia schools were not responding to special education referrals in a timely fashion, creating a “backlog” of hearings for eligibility determination.

Initially, progress to eliminate the backlog was made, but then the District slipped back.  In 2003 the United States District Court addressed the backlog problem.  The Implementation Plan provided for an “independent assessment” conducted by Dr. Tom Hehir, a special education expert.



The District has questioned a recent court opinion:

“Chancellor Kaya Henderson pushed back Friday at this week’s federal court ruling that the District has failed to identify and treat adequate numbers of young children with special needs, saying that the District received little credit for substantial progress.”

The court’s involvement resulting from parent complains on behalf of their children has history. utm_source=asha&utm_medium

November, 2011
“The U.S. Department of Education announced today a proposal to create an Office of Early Learning, tasked with overseeing the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants and coordinating early learning programs across the Department.”Effective early learning programs are essential to prepare our children for success in school and beyond,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “A dedicated early learning office will institutionalize, elevate and coordinate federal support for high-quality early learning, while enhancing support for state efforts to build high-performing early education systems.”

Causes of Education Disproportionality and Practicality

One of our popular posts concerns 50 causes of special education over-identification in America’s schools.  “Causes” can be identified all the way from congress to local IEP meetings.  A first response is to say the system is too complex to overhaul.  Where does one start?

We get confused waiting for policy makers to “fix the problem.”  In fact, IDEA says we at the “local level” can take action.  In fact, LEAs are bound to reduce the improper placements of at-risk children in special education.

The cliché is to say, “It’s not rocket  science!”  Superintendents can take action with simple district-wide measures to direct personnel to establish proportional admissions.  From a prior post, here is the STOP approach:

Stop sign along country road

“A while back we proposed half in jest a direct approach.  It involves the local school administrator writing directly to the staff and telling them to stop placing so many children in special education, and stop keeping them there for an unacceptable length of time. Thinking on it, it is not a half-bad solution.  In fact, it is a powerful, proper and cost-effective solution.

States are supposed to monitor LEAs to make sure they are doing the job.  The STOP approach can do it.

“Dear Colleagues,  

I have noticed we have more than the predicted numbers of children in special education, and our district is part of a national pattern showing minority children in particular  too often go into special education.  The national reports indicate too that children are placed in the wrong categories, or some categories are over-used. Let’s try to cut back on our special education enrollment by 10%.  Each person must use his or her skills to make rock solid eligibility judgments.

I am providing a simple one page report form with a checklist and a place for comments.  Please turn this in to me by January 15.  We want to hear from you as to what you have done personally.  In the long-run such information might give us a knowledge base for what we can all do together to combat over-identification.

Thanks for all you do!  As usual, you will hear back from me on your report.

Missy Jane Rogers


Mandated numbers