Special-education enrollment declines six straight years as St. Paul schools work on equity

Nov 1, 2017 by

Six years into a wide-ranging equity initiative, St. Paul Public Schools is sticking far fewer students with the special-education label.

Concerned that too many children, especially African-Americans, were being identified for specialized services, the district in 2011 set out to educate more students in mainstream classrooms.

The approach has been blamed for an increase in student misbehavior, but the district’s efforts were praised in a state compliance review in June.

The Education Department commended the district’s co-teaching model, in which general-education and special-education teachers share a classroom, and its attempts at using different instructional tactics in lieu of formal individualized education plans (IEPs).

Each of the last seven years, the district’s special-ed enrollment has declined, to 15.3 percent this fall from 18.6 percent in 2010. The statewide average is 15.1 percent.

Had St. Paul’s rate not changed, more than 1,000 additional students would now be on individualized education plans.

“It was very purposeful,” said Gail Ghere, the district’s interim director of specialized services. “It’s a significant issue to put a disability label on a child.”

Source: Special-education enrollment declines six straight years as St. Paul schools work on equity – Twin Cities

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