Search

Delaware: SPED pop. "has grown by 22% in last 5 yrs.; 4X the overall student growth

Feb 9, 2018, DelawareOnline: Lawmakers want answers on special education growth https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/09/lawmakers-want-answers-special-education-growth/321269002/ Lawmakers tasked with crafting the state budget are seeking more detail about why the number of Delaware's special education students is growing so quickly. The state's special education student population has grown by 22 percent over the last five years to about 21,550 students – nearly four times the growth rate of the overall student population. Meeting the needs of those students is now one of the leading cost drivers for the Delaware Department of Education, an agency whose budget makes up more than a third of the state's total general fund spending. Yet state education officials on Thursday were unable to provide lawmakers with clear answers about the root causes of that growth or whether it will ever tail off. … … And, Bunting said, a growing awareness of certain special needs could be contributing to greater numbers of students being identified as having some form of learning disability. … State Rep. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear, said she also would like to see more data projections of future growth in special education. But nailing down the exact causes of the population growth and determining whether they will continue to be factors in the future might not be so simple, Deputy Education Secretary Karen Field Rogers said afterward. … Trends and aggregate data might be possible "but to really say we know what is driving the underlying special education growth right now would just be speculation," Rogers said. State Sen. Nicole Poore, D-New Castle, said she is less concerned with identifying root causes of the growth than making sure all special education students are being properly supported. … Non-special education student enrollment grew by 240 as of September of this year. Meanwhile, Delaware schools recorded 930 additional special education students. …