The framework for the Special Education 2000 evaluation and the impact of providing a special education grant to all schools

Year: 2001

Author: Bourke, Roseanna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the past five years significant restructuring has been undertaken in New Zealand aimed at changing resourcing systems in special education. This resourcing change is part of the introduction of the first policy in special education for all New Zealand schools. One of the objectives of the new policy was greater equity and distribution of resources, for all learners with special educational needs, regardless of where they are educated. The government’s intention in 1996 was that the policy (introduced as Special Education 2000), would help create a world class inclusive education system. The policy has yet to achieve this. It has, however, influenced the way in which "inclusive education" is viewed. Under the Special Education 2000 policy, resourcing attempted to move away from a system that categorized learners, but instead has created clear chasms between learners who receive support because they have been verified as having ‘high-very high’ needs and those who do not.

This policy has had resourcing implications for all schools in New Zealand. Alongside the changes for students with high needs, the policy introduced a Special Education Grant (SEG) to all schools regardless of whether there were students with special educational needs enrolled in the school.

A research team from Massey University was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to provide an independent evaluation and monitoring of the new policy over a three-year period (1999-2001). The Massey University based research team used a multi-method approach including, where possible, participatory research methods. The evaluation included extensive national surveys to primary and secondary schools, early childhood centres, service providers, residential special schools and Maori immersion schools. This paper outlines the framework for the multi-method participatory research evaluation and specifically examines the results from the SEG component of the policy. The following papers in this symposium will look at the impact on early childhood services (Carroll-Lind & Cullen), educational support for Maori learners (Bevan-Brown & Bcvan-Brown) and professional development for teachers (Kearney & Poskitt).