An April 2012 report, Review of Special Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, revealed that low-income students are considerably more likely than other students to be determined eligible for special education. The report also revealed that low-income students with disabilities and Hispanic and African American students with disabilities are considerably less likely to be included in general education classrooms. The report is based on a study commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to address concerns about the degree to which the Commonwealth’s high special education identification rate is beneficial to the special education population; Massachusetts has the second highest rate of special education identification in the United States. According to the report, districts with higher percentages of low-income students, on average, identify a higher percentage of students with disabilities than districts with lower percentages of low-income students; this is particularly true for low-income students attending high-income districts. Overall, many Massachusetts students with disabilities are doing well and are experiencing high levels of integration and success, compared to other states; however, students with disabilities who spend much of their time segregated from their peers outside of general education classrooms tend to score lower on the statewide assessment.
A full copy of the report is available at http://tinyurl.com/buptxhm.