We all know the big story these days is budget. While everyone has been forced to cut back, some changes have been more drastic than others. One area of real concern for the field of special education is research funding. Special education research funding took a disproportionate hit in 2011 and it must be restored.
Here is what happened: In FY 2011, Congress cut funding for special education research by $20 million dollars, or 28%. Of the programs CEC advocates for only gifted and talented funding took a bigger hit – it was eliminated. CEC has worked through the fall to persuade Congress to restore funding for both of these programs, but in terms of research, CEC is asking that Congress restore funding to the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) within the Institute of Education Sciences to $71 million dollars – its FY2010 level. This modest investment is critical to ensuring that children and youth with disabilities continue to receive cutting edge research based interventions.
Since its inception in 2004, NCSER has funded over 100 new research and training projects in areas that seek to improve the educational outcomes of children and youth with disabilities. Many of these projects began when local school districts approached local universities and asked for help. NCSER has funded research in areas of great need like autism, mathematics and science instruction for students with disabilities and many studies of interventions for children ages 0-5. What’s more, most of the projects funded have had a direct and lasting impact on the local communities, schools, teachers, students and families who participate.
Congress also must restore funding for this program to its FY 2010 level because despite gains made through the years from this research, more is needed. Indeed, the current statistics for children and youth with disabilities remain alarming:
- While the performance of students with disabilities on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has improved since 2005, still only 10% of students with disabilities receive a “proficient” score in reading and only 6% in math, in 2009; and
- The dropout rate for students with disabilities is 26.2%, nearly twice that of students without disabilities.
The fight is not over - Join us today! Tell Congress to restore funding for special education research now.