NYC special education referrals plunge 57% from pre-pandemic levels
Significantly fewer students were referred for special education evaluations last year, dropping 57% since the year before the pandemic started, raising concerns that thousands of students have not been identified for services they may need.
During the 2020-2021 school year, 9,457 students were referred for evaluations to determine if they need more intensive support, such as smaller classes with a special education instructor or other services such as speech or occupational therapy.
That’s down from roughly 16,000 the previous school year, and nearly 22,000 in 2018-19, the school year before the pandemic hit, according to an annual report delivered to City Council by the education department late Wednesday.
The report, which was released more than two weeks after the legal deadline and just hours before a City Council hearing on special education, does not reveal exactly why so many fewer students were flagged for services.
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