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Group Says NYC Lacks Focus on Special Needs Students

Friday, April 24, 2009

Despite gradual improvements in test scores special education students are still performing far lower than other students, and they're disproportionately black and Latino. That's according to a new report by the non-profit group Advocates for Children of New York.

Executive Director Kim Sweet says there's a lack of focus in the city's Education Department despite new reading interventions, and the ability to track student achievement.

SWEET: They tried a few new programs out but there's really been no data coming out of the department of education to show if those programs are working, and if they are working - why. You know perhaps some of them are working in some schools and not others.

REPORTER: Sweet says too many parents don't know about their rights to programs for students with special needs. An education department spokeswoman says the report downplays the progress it's made with special education.

The percentage of students with disabilities performing at or above grade level has more than doubled in reading since 2002 though it's still less than 50 percent.

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