04 SES 04 A, Policy Evaluation
In The Netherlands a major change is ahead in the national policy concerning children with special educational needs (SEN). The change consists in a shift of responsibility from a national to a regional level, with regard to deciding about the eligibility for additional funding or the admission to special education. On this regional level it will be up to cooperating local school boards to decide on the allocation of budgets for supporting children with SEN and on ways of defining the special arrangements available for those children. One of the policy goals behind this shift is the wish that in the future less children with educational needs will be referred to special schools and that education in mainstream schools will become more inclusive. Another goal, or at least policy expectation, is that this will also improve the educational careers of children with special educational needs.
An evaluation program on this new policy is now being developed by a special Evaluation Committee. The research presented here is part of this program and is meant to provide basic information on the present state of school careers and level of achievement of children that need extra care, both in mainstream and in special education. Repeated measurements in later years will make it possible to see whether the policy expectations will come true.
In the past, a few earlier studies were carried out in the Netherlands on school careers and school achievement of SEN-children. In this studies, comparisons were made to the cognitive and social development of children in special schools and the development of comparable SEN-children in mainstream schools (Peetsma et al, 2001; Jepma, 2003), by use of a
matching technique. In the research presented here, we were able to follow SEN-children in their school career, including moments of referral tot special education, and we used more information on the ‘SEN-types’ of distinguished groups.
The research questions to be answered are the following:
1) What is the development of the school careers of SEN-children in mainstream and special education, as compared to non-SEN-children?
2) Does the presence of SEN-children in mainstream classes affect the educational performance of non-SEN-children in these classes?
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