What harm can random state benchmarks do?
Here is an example from the state of Texas who decided they were going to pull a number out of their hat – 8.5%. Only 8.5% of the student population was going to be enrolled for special education services and they met it. Does this mean they now have fewer students who need services?
No it just meant students that needed the services are now being declined.
Fox News reports:
A Houston Chronicle investigation found the Texas Education Agency’s enrollment benchmark for special education services of 8.5 percent has led to the systematic denial of services by school districts. In the years since Texas’ 2004 implementation of the benchmark, the rate of students getting special education dropped from near the national average of 13 percent to the lowest in the country. It fell to 8.5 percent in 2015.
If Texas provided services at the same rate as the rest of the U.S., 250,000 more kids would be getting services such as therapy, counseling and one-on-one tutoring. The newspaper said records show Texas is the only state to set such a benchmark, which was never publicly announced or explained.
The newspaper found that the effort saved TEA billions of dollars but denied support to children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, epilepsy, mental illnesses, speech impediments, traumatic brain injuries and even blindness and deafness.
The teachers and administrators said that in order to stay below the benchmark they’ve done everything from putting kids into a cheaper alternative program to persuading parents to pull their children out of public school altogether.