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Special Education Enrollment Increases in Texas in Wake of Newspaper Investigation

Texas's special education enrollment grew by about 14,000 students in the 2016-17 school year, the same year the Houston Chronicle published an investigation on the state's policy of scrutinizing districts whose special education enrollment went over 8.5 percent.

The state's special education enrollment is now around 477,000 students, or 8.9 percent of the state's public school students, the Houston Chronicle reported Friday. At the time the Chronicle published its investigation in 2016, the state had the lowest percentage of students in special education of all 50 states—exactly 8.5 percent, when the nationwide average was around 13 percent. 

The state has said that it did not have a cap on special education, but had set 8.5 percent as a "benchmark" for districts, and a way to prevent school systems from placing children in special education who might be better served through other programs. Administrators, teachers and parents, however, told the Chronicle that they struggled to get services to children who needed them.

The Texas Education Agency removed the benchmark in November, and earlier this year state legislature passed a law preventing the state from creating such caps or benchmarks in the future


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