Texas is still reckoning with Special Education challenges

Since federal regulators ordered the state to rescind its de facto cap on special education services in 2018, Texas has been scrambling to ensure that all kids with special needs are identified. Already, TEA has seen the number of students tested for special ed services soar but is now facing a new challenge: not enough licensed school psychologists to keep up with demand.

Statewide, there’s only one licensed school psychologist for about 2,800 students, though national guidelines say there should be about one for every 500-700 students. https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-psychology/shortages-in-school-psychology-resource-guide

The number of students tested for special ed services may be up, but the state still lags way behind the national average. In 2016, while the state’s cap was still in place, 8.7% of all Texas students received special education. In 2019 that number had edged upward, to 9.8%, but is still far below the national average of 14%.

The consequences of lower special ed rates in Texas have a long-lasting impact on children with disabilities, according to a recent study https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Study-finds-Texas-students-kicked-out-of-special-14572629.php by researchers at the University of California-Davis and Cornell University. They found that Texas students with minor disabilities who missed individualized services under the state’s previous cap were less likely to graduate from high school or attend college.

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