Preventing Special Education Assignment

The number of students assigned to special education has increased in the past decades, in spite of efforts for more inclusion. For students with mild learning or behavioral difficulties, special education assignment might be prevented if appropriate support is provided in general education. In this study, research on programs that could reduce the number of students assigned to special education is reviewed systematically. The review focuses on students in elementary schools.

In total, 12 experimental or quasi-experimental studies of nine programs were reviewed. Programs were categorized based on what they were designed to improve: academic achievement, behavior, or both, and the multi-tiered Response to Intervention (RTI) framework was used to describe the intensity of the programs. It was found that several programs did reduce the number of students assigned to special education, while others did not or yielded mixed results. Three common elements of programs deemed effective were identified: an emphasis on tutoring, professional development and parental involvement. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Published Report:

Mariëtte Hingstman, Amanda J. Neitzel & Robert E. Slavin (2022):
Preventing Special Education Assignment for Students with Learning or Behavioral Difficulties: A Review of Programs, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR), DOI: 10.1080/10824669.2022.2098131

Special and Remedial Education

This article proposes a strategy to accelerate the learning of struggling learners that uses proven reading and mathematics programs to ensure student success. Based on Response to Intervention (RTI), the proposed policy, Response to Proven Intervention (RTPI), uses proven whole-school or whole-class programs as Tier 1, proven one-to-small group tutoring programs as Tier 2, and proven one-to-one tutoring as Tier 3. The criteria for “proven” are the “strong” and “moderate” evidence levels specified in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This article lists proven reading and mathematics programs for each tier, and explains how evidence of effectiveness within an RTI framework could become central to improving outcomes for struggling learners.

Technical Report