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Wall St Jrnl: More students getting exta help from 504 plans; numbers have doubled

July 3, 2018, Wall Street Journal: More Students Are Getting Special Help in Grades K-12 –Number of students receiving accommodations from 504 plans more than doubled, with more getting help in wealthier districts https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-students-are-getting-special-help-in-grades-k-12-1530646260 More students are getting extra help for a range of issues including ADHD and anxiety, data show, with a disproportionate amount of those receiving support attending schools in wealthier districts. From the 2009-10 school year to 2015-16, the number of public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade granted accommodations known as 504 plans more than doubled, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data. 504 plans are designed to level the academic playing field for K-12 students who face a variety of physical and emotional challenges by providing services such as extended time for tests, including college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. The data show high rates of students receiving accommodations in wealthier districts and lower rates in poorer ones. In some wealthy schools, as many as one in five students receive this type of accommodation. Awareness and diagnoses of mental-health issues have been rising in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Factors in the lopsided growth include gaps in both resources at schools and information among parents about the plans, advocates say… The rise in 504 accommodations in grades K-12 correlates with the increase in the number of accommodations given by the College Board for high-stakes exams like the SAT and the rise in accommodations given by colleges and universities. William S. McKersie is the superintendent of schools in Weston, Conn., a New York City bedroom community where nearly one in five students has such a plan—nearly 10 times the national average. He and other school officials say that every student should be provided with the accommodations they need to succeed in school.... ...To be eligible, students are required by the law to show a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as reading or learning. The rate of 504s rose from 1% of students in the 2009-10 school year to 2.3% in 2015-16, when more than 1.2 million students had one. …