Opinion
Special Education Letter to the Editor

Missing Reference Point Could Skew Article’s Data

June 07, 2016 1 min read

To the Editor:

I read with interest the article reporting and analyzing an “uptick” in special education enrollments (“National Count of Special Education Students Shows Uptick”). The article, as is Education Week‘s norm, is well written, and canvassed the opinions of an impressive group of experts.

However, there does seem to be one problem with the otherwise comprehensive analysis: The longitudinal graph and the various comments are solely based on numbers rather than also including percentages. Thus, if the school population increased during the same period, the percentage of special education students may have increased, remained the same, or decreased during that time, while providing a more simple, straightforward, and cogent explanation than those the commentators offered for the reported uptick.

Without the reference point of total enrollment numbers, the special education numbers alone are important in terms of costs and other significant factors but incomplete in terms of longitudinal trends.

Perry A. Zirkel

University Professor Emeritus

Education and Law

Lehigh University

Allentown, Pa.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2016 edition of Education Week as Missing Reference Point Could Skew Article’s Data

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Special Education Schools Struggled to Serve Students With Disabilities, English-Learners During Shutdowns
The needs of students with IEPs and English-language learners were not often met after the pandemic struck, says a federal report.
3 min read
Young boy wearing a mask shown sheltering at home looking out a window with a stuffed animal.
Getty
Special Education How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
States’ efforts so far suggest there won’t be enough money to go around for all the learning losses of students with disabilities from COVID-19 school shutdowns.
8 min read
student struggling blue IMG
iStock/Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Special Education Whitepaper
Dyslexia: How to Identify Warning Signs at Every Grade
Read the new whitepaper by Dr. Pamela Hook to learn how to recognize the warning signs of dyslexia at different grade levels.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
Special Education Bridging Distance for Learners With Special Needs
The schooling services that English-language learners and students with disabilities receive don’t always translate well to remote learning. Here’s how schools can help.
9 min read
Special IMG
E+/Getty