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Children Lacking Disabilities Are Often Place in Special Education Classes

Special education classes were intended for children who have mental, physical, emotional or other issues that hinder their learning. It was never meant to serve those who don't speak English, or don't speak it well. There are plenty of examples across the state where immigrant or minority children are wrongly placed in special education programs because they aren't properly evaluated.

One of the biggest problems involves the use of standardized tests which don't account for cultural or language differences, said Cate Crowley, a lecturer at Columbia University Teachers College who trains teachers to assess youngsters from diverse backgrounds. "It's a challenging and complicated process to identify which children have true disabilities requiring special education services and which children have 'something else.' That 'something else' could be that they are in the process of learning a second language or did not have an adequate academic background before they entered school here or were tested with a biased test."

This article, written by Rick Karlin, appeared in the January 10th, 2006 publication of the Times Union.

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