Think tank says some special ed students mislabeled

CLEVELAND (AP) - Financial incentives to cover special-education costs can lead to more students being assigned to such programs, a research institute said.

A study by New York's Manhattan Institute said that in Ohio, 9,000 students were wrongly identified in the last 10 years for special-education services, accounting for $53 million in extra
funding to school districts, the study found.

"Where we are seeing stronger financial incentives, we're seeing faster growth," researcher Jay Greene said Wednesday.

The report said special-education enrollments grew fastest in states that pay schools more for each special education student, instead of paying a lump sum to cover such costs.

Cleveland schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the study raised often-discussed issues. She said she suspected funding sometimes drives decisions on where to place students.

"This is nationwide," she said.

The report said 12.3 percent of public school students were identified for special-education services during the 2000-01 school year, compared with 10.6 percent a decade earlier.

The Manhattan Institute does policy research in such areas as crime, the economy and education.

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