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Volume 28, Number 2
March/April 2012

With the Rise of “Super Subgroups,” Concerns for Disabled Students Mount


Perhaps the biggest issue special education is facing right now isn’t anything all that new—and isn’t even a special education law. It’s the fact that individual states are receiving waivers to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the decade-old federal statute aimed at helping low-income students.

NCLB has become critically important to special education programs, and the new waivers being granted by the Obama administration could have enormous implications for students with disabilities.

Special education advocates are cautiously watching to see if the waivers retain the positive parts of NCLB (attention to special education subgroups within schools and accountability for test scores, mainly) while getting rid of the controversial parts (such as labeling schools as failures based on one group of students).

“Whether the waiver process is done in a way that is supportive of keeping people’s attention on the performance of kids with disabilities or not—that’s the big question,” says Tom Hehir, former director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and now a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

M. Wagner, L. Newman, R. Cameto, N. Garza, and P. Levine. After High School: A First Look at the Postschool Experiences of Youth with Disabilities; A Report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study–2 (NLTS2). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International, 2005.