Following the repeal of a policy that limited the number of students Texas school districts could provide special education services to, the number of students enrolled in special education has jumped dramatically this year, according to the Associated Press.
Citing a review by the Houston Chronicle, it’s reported that more than 477,000 students received special education services in 2016-2017. This is an increase of 14,000 students over the previous year, and represents about nine percent of the state’s total student population. Nationwide, about 13 percent of students in the country receive special education services.
Texas Education Agency officials came under fire recently following a newspaper investigation of its policy to limit special education services to 8.5 percent of students statewide, well below the national average. School districts were blasted for denying students the services they needed and to which they were legally entitled. TEA officials countered by saying the policy “wasn’t a cap, but rather a benchmark that would indicate school districts’ performance.”
Earlier this year, legislators passed a bill that prohibits the TEA from mandating a cap on services. Since then, the number of students receiving special education services has grown, but many say it hasn’t grown enough.
“It’s not just about pushing the numbers up,” Rep. Gene Wu of Houston said. “What do you do with the kids who are way behind because they weren’t given the support they needed?”