By Rob Shimshock
Around 80 percent of students in special education do not belong there, a special education advocate said, according to a Sunday report.
Fewer than 20 percent of students in special education programs have severe autism, Down syndrome or other established conditions, two-time Baltimore school board member Kalman R. Hettleman noted in an interview with The Washington Post.
The others “are dumped into special education,” Hettleman told WaPo. “Reading experts estimate that, in the absence of timely interventions, between 50 and 75 percent of struggling readers wind up unnecessarily in special education.”
Hettleman has served as Maryland’s human resources secretary and Baltimore’s deputy mayor. He currently represents the interests of over 200 Maryland special education students in obtaining better services for free.
“Students don’t catch up,” the advocate explained, referring to students without medically established conditions who are placed in special education programs. “They almost invariably fall further behind. All the while, they are segregated to varying degrees from peers and suffer stigma.”
Only around a tenth of fourth and eighth-grade special education students met reading proficiency standards in 2017, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress.
“School systems conceal actual performance through grade inflation; social promotion from grade to grade, though the student is not close to meeting grade-level standards, bogus graduation diplomas, and other means,” Hettleman told WaPo.
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