Children with special needs are more likely to get tax breaks for their education, even if they aren’t academically gifted, according to new research.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that in states that require schools to make special education programs available to students with disabilities, the schools also provide financial aid to students who aren’t learning English as a second language.
And the federal government paid out more than $400 million in special education aid to states that offered it, the researchers found.
It’s not clear why those states did it.
But the findings come at a time when Congress is considering whether to make it easier for states to offer more assistance to students, said Dr. Jennifer Haskins, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Penn.
If lawmakers want to make sure that kids with special education are getting the most help they can, it makes sense to look at it as a whole, she said.
This isn’t an issue where it’s just a single school district that’s doing it, she added.
“It’s really something about the way that schools are organized, about the funding, and the resources that are available.”
States with the most funding for special education funding tend to have the most students in need, said study author and Penn assistant professor Jennifer Hasking.
The research found that districts that had the most special education dollars in their state also had the lowest proportion of students who didn’t get the help they needed to get to their academic goals.
Hasking and her co-author analyzed data from the federal Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which tracks poverty and educational attainment.
They found that states with the highest percentage of students in special needs have the highest proportion of special education students who don’t get any assistance from the state government.
States with a lower percentage of special-needs students also had higher proportions of students with special educational needs in the workforce, on the job and in school.
More than 4 million students in the U.S. live with disabilities.
The number of students enrolled in special-education programs nationwide has more than tripled since 2000, the latest year for which data is available.
In 2014, more than 5 million students nationwide were enrolled in public or private programs.
About 2 million students were enrolled on a state-by-state basis.