By Joe Herring for Real Clear Education
Reports of student misbehavior in public schools have risen sharply, as districts report widespread “stunted” social development among students.
Yet special education resources may not be able to handle the subsequent increase in students with special needs.
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Annual “School pulse boardA survey conducted by the US Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences (IES) revealed some troubling trends:
- More than 80% of public schools reported “stunted behavioral and social-emotional development” among students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Schools saw a 56% increase in “classroom disruptions from student misbehavior” and a 49% increase in “disruption outside the classroom.”
- Seven in 10 public schools reported an increase in students receiving mental health services since the pandemic began.
Many of the problems reported in the survey were pre-existing, albeit exacerbated by pandemic policies. For example, demand for social and mental health services has been on the rise since before COVID-19.
Data reveal that struggling students are increasingly turning to special education professionals after returning to individualized classrooms.
National Center for Education Statistics Reports Of the more than seven million children in the United States who receive special education services, approximately 15% are in grades K-12. This caseload predates the pandemic and represents a level of need that is already straining district budgets.
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According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, every student with special needs must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). IEP teams include therapists and psychologists, as well as teachers and administrators.
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However, as schools struggle to find these professionals and more students request special education services, the pre-existing gap between students and resources increases, leaving more special education students without federally mandated care and putting schools and districts at legal risk.
IES data reveals that approximately 60% of public schools already do not have enough professional staff to meet their school’s need for mental health and behavioral intervention services.
If resources are tapped, students for whom special education services are essential will be harmed by the resulting reduction in services.
This emphasis on special education raises the question of whether the use of limited special education resources is appropriate for students whose difficulties do not impair long-term learning, but are more indicative of episodic struggles.
However, parents in issuing states School Choice Programs May qualify for scholarships that can be used for special education tuition or enrollment in a private school.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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