Grades rose amid push to include the disabled
Another in an occasional series in the Wall Street Journal:
The experiences of a school district in Okaloosa County, Florida, illuminate a path toward the successful inclusion of students with disabilities alongside their typical peers.
Since its aggressive inclusion push began in 2001, the Okaloosa district has become one of Florida’s top academic performers, with 32 of its 36 schools receiving A grades on the most recent state assessments. The ranks of disabled students who pass state achievement tests have grown, while discipline problems among them have diminished: 2% have faced out-of-school suspensions so far this academic year, down from 11% before the reforms began.
Okaloosa has managed such progress even while spending less than other districts across Florida. According to the most recent state data, Okaloosa spends just over $9,400 a year per special-education student in state and local funds — nearly $1,300 less than the state average.
… In the mainstreaming landscape, observers say Okaloosa stands out for its unusual push to get special-education students to tackle more challenging class work and provide extra help and training to general-education teachers.
See earlier stories here and here and here.