Special education trends and variations from the United States and United Kingdom (England), 1984 to 2014

  • Alan J. Marsh
  • International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, March 2018, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/21683603.2018.1429335

What is it about?

This study provides an analysis of special education data from the United States and from the United Kingdom (England) to examine national trends and to provide a research baseline for benchmarking. After years of steady increases in the US and England, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) enrollments and statements of special educational needs (SEN) have declined in the last decade, but there has been a recent unexpected growth in the new education, health, and care plans in England. Extremely wide variations exist for dispute resolution due process complaints, with litigation being 70 times more likely to occur in Washington DC. The article takes the view that parents should expect more equity in overall special education services without a ‘zip code/postcode’ lottery. Suggestions for further research include an exploration of better equivalence of data within the US by the use of education demographic and geographic estimates for school districts and statistical neighbors methodology for English Local Authorities. In conclusion, school psychologists are ideally placed to use their research and development skills to assist with benchmarking to inform critical self-reviews at both a local and a national level and to investigate more fully the complexities behind the significant variations in dispute complaints.

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