Column: Special Education

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A new quarterly journal for research in special education will be unveiled later this month.

The creators of the magazine, Exceptionality, said its purpose is to promote rigorous research in the field and present findings in an unbiased fashion.

"Other journals contain within them not only research but also opinion and essays," said Daniel P. Hallahan, a professor of education at the University of Virginia and editor of the journal. "We want only empirical research and reviews of empirical research."

The journal is an outgrowth of the Council for Exceptional Children's newly formed division for research.

Reflective of the serious image it will project, the periodical is being published by Springer-Verlag New York Inc., a longtime publisher of research journals in medicine and the physical sciences.

Advocates for children with disabilities are warily eyeing a Congressional measure intended to give some school districts a freer hand in spending federal and state funds.

Sponsored by U.S. Representative Peter Smith, a Vermont Republican, the bill would create a national demonstration program for "educational performance agreements," much like those called for during the national education summit in Charlottesville, Va. These would allow schools to consolidate categorical funds and spend them in ways they consider most efficient--provided that students continued to meet certain performance standards.

Among the federal resources to be "freed up" under the proposal are those authorized under the Education of the Handicapped Act. Advocates fear that any loosening of federal special-education laws could threaten the rights of handicapped children.

An aide to Mr. Smith said a substitute bill currently being drafted addresses some of those concerns.

The difficulty of evaluating bilingual students for special education is well known. The problem becomes more complex, however, when the student is suspected of having a speech or language handicap.

Those subtle complexities are the focus of a new report from the eric Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children. It notes, for example, that children who are losing one language and acquiring another may exhibit behaviors that mimic symptoms of some speech and language disorders.

The paper, "Assessing the Language Difficulties of Hispanic Bilingual Students," is available for a $1 shipping and handling fee by contacting: cec Publication Sales, The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, Va. 22091.--dv

Vol. 09, Issue 21

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