The Arc of Texas Provides Recommendations on Special Education Services
The Arc of Texas Leadership and Advocacy Coordinator Wendy Ward submitted written testimony to the Texas Commission on Special Education Funding on special education services in public schools. Ward provided testimony for the committee meeting on June 27, 2022. Read the testimony submitted below.
Thank you for your leadership in undertaking the mandate to develop and make recommendations related to the financing of special education services in public schools.
As a statewide membership organization, The Arc of Texas promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of more than a half-million Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). We believe the children and families we work for and alongside deserve a modernized, efficient, and effective special education funding system to provide the services and supports needed for their success in Texas public schools. Currently, the state can do a much better job in funding a system designed to optimize outcomes for students with disabilities to ensure bright futures and productive lives beyond their school years.
Texas relies on an outdated funding formula that focuses on disability categories rather than student needs. These needs should not be rigidly defined because they fall on a continuum to which services should be categorized for more individualization. The special education service system should thus move away from instructional arrangement to a service intensity model to achieve maximum efficiency. The service intensity model is sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities, and the state should allocate support accordingly.
In collaboration with twenty-seven (27) local chapters across the state, The Arc of Texas works with families of children with IDD, including children on the autism spectrum. Their IEPs vary widely to correspond with the significance of their needs. The one size fits all approach inherent in the instructional arrangement standard is not appropriate for this population of students and does not correlate with the level of services and supports needed for their academic success. These and other families would benefit greatly from a shift to a service intensity model that is congruent with meeting the individual needs of their children.
A shift from instructional arrangement to a service intensity model does not imply sudden transformation. We recognize that long-term solutions and a measured approach are best suited to reform the special education funding structure to remedy long-standing systemic issues.
We appreciate your consideration of this recommendation to strengthen the state’s special education service system. Please do not hesitate to contact The Arc of Texas for additional information or if we can be of service.