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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Low-Income Students and Special Education Placement – Massachusetts

Special education policies in Mass. reviewed, By James Vaznis, April 23, 2012, Boston Globe: “Low-income school districts are most likely to place students in special education programs for mild and sometimes questionable disabilities, a practice that has swelled the state’s special education population to one of the highest rates in the nation, according to a first-of-a-kind study commissioned by the state. The study – to be presented at a state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Monday night – is expected to provoke debate over whether low-income districts are placing students in special education because of legitimate disabilities or because of weak academic programs that cause students to fall behind, or because some teachers want unruly students out of their classrooms. That low-income districts are more likely to identify special education students debunks a long-held belief in Massachusetts that it is the savvy, well-heeled parents in wealthier districts who have been pushing up special education rates as they demand advantages for their children, such as extra academic support and waivers from time limits on standardized tests…”