How do educational reforms change the share of students in special education? Trends in special education in Finland
Pulkkinen, Jonna; Räikkönen, Eija; Jahnukainen, Markku; Pirttimaa, Raija (2020). How do educational reforms change the share of students in special education? Trends in special education in Finland. European Educational Research Journal, 19 (4), 364-384. DOI: 10.1177/1474904119892734
Published inEuropean Educational Research Journal
© The Author(s) 2019
Recent European and global trends in education have been to promote inclusive education and expand education, resulting in the increased provision of special education. In promoting inclusive education, recent special education reforms have also aimed to curtail the rise in identification rates for students in special education, for example, by focusing more on early support and discontinuing fiscal incentives to identify students with special educational needs. Using official special education statistics, we studied how Finland’s special education system reforms changed the share of students in special education. In addition, we examined variations in special education provisions among municipalities before and after the reforms, and identified municipal-level predictors of variations. This study utilised piecewise linear latent growth curve modelling to analyse changes, thereby providing an example of how this method can be applied in policy reform studies. The results indicated, in particular, that the funding reform has incentivised municipalities to decrease identification rates for students in special education and to diminish special education provision. However, different municipalities have different special education provisions and have changed these provisions in varied ways. In particular, we found that small and large municipalities differ in special education practices and reform implementation. ...