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How special education enrollment is changing in California

Assistance for special education students has never been more prevalent in the California education system. And awareness for the needs of these students has never been greater. That said, there is still a long way to go in terms of getting critical services and academic resources to the students that deserve them.

Unfortunately, it may not be getting any easier. According to a recent report, enrollment for special education students has surged over the last 10 years in California. Enrollment for students with autism alone have spiked 18 percent in the last two years. Though there is still some debate over why this is happening, it could have a dramatic effect on students.

Funding challenges

School already struggle to fund adequate special education services. Often, they fall short and students wind up without the assistance or tools they are supposed to receive. This can stem from lacking contributions from state and federal government.

Add in more students, and the problem doesn't get any better. 

Increased competition 

Finding a school that has the tools and approach to effectively teach students with certain special needs can be difficult. And once they find a school like this, unfortunately, they could face a lot of competition. Some families move across the state so their child can attend. 

This could add stress to an already difficult situation, especially as parents work to navigate eligibility requirements and any additional expenses they may incur.

Need for increased oversight

In situations where a child is one of only a few students that require certain services, it can be easy for teachers to monitor their progress. Parents can have an easier time communicating with the school about what a child is or is not getting. 

However, when there are more students in need of more special education services -- all of which should be individualized and monitored -- it can be easier for something or someone to slip through the cracks.

With special education enrollment increasing across California, delivering appropriate services should be a top priority for districts. Unfortunately, there will be failings and obstacles that make this difficult, which is why parental involvement and action will be as crucial as ever.

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