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Counterpoint: "20/20 Analysis" - Phase 1 only.

We appreciate the thoughtful critique of our article and the opportunity for this dialogue in Exceptional Children about some of the challenging issues in special education. We agree with Soodak and Podell that major reforms of special education are needed and that they should occur within the larger context of educational change. It is our assumption that all categorical programs (including special education, Chapter 1, migrant education, and others) face serious reexamination in the near future. It is our hope that

these programs will be reformed in a coherent way with each other and with general education. Even in favored suburban schools--and wherever there are general changes, such as the move toward school-based management--there is a need for new approaches in categorical programs. The school is the most fundamental unit for managing changes in education; and that is why we organize 20/20 analysis around the individual school.

Our article discussed only the first phase of the 20/20 procedure. Immediately after the initial data analysis, attention shifts to a second phase, which is concerned with improvement of instruction for individuals and for the class or program as a whole. The idea is to move directly and positively toward program improvements and, as much as possible, to avoid tendencies to excuse poor progress by applying negative labels to children and then setting these children aside in "special" programs.

In this response, we discuss several of the specific issues raised in the critique: inequity (to which we join the issue of funding), single-dimension identification, and simplicity.


A key point in the critique concems the creation or maintenance of inequities among schools, and thus for students, if 20/20 procedures are used. This point concerns funding, a topic that deserves much attention but that we did not discuss. We do not propose that categorical funds be distributed uniformly across schools (20% or 40% to each). We now have 20/20 data on dozens of schools; and the differences among them in achievement levels are enormous, much as shown in the critique comparing an inner-city school and a suburban school. Obviously, some schools will need more resoumes than others. We favor an approach to funding suggested by Nicholas Hobbs (1975), in which programmatic units serve as "triggers" for extra funds. As special education, Chapter 1, and other categorical programs are reformed (and linked with changed delivery systems in health and social services), we will need to define programmatic units and how they are funded. Some of the programs may be directed to prevention of problems and thus not involve identifying particular students. Perhaps "extra teachers" and "parent education" will be programmatic units.

In any case, we need to get away from the "bounty hunt" mentality, in which more labeled students beget added dollars. Present funding systems provide too little in the way of programmatic traces for categorical dollars. Indeed, in today's cash-short school environments, one might guess that school districts are eagerly seeking categorical dollars, but reducing their flow to categorical programs--all without clear programmatic traces. Clearly, funding is an equityrelated topic and deserves much discussion. We simply did not deal with it in the initial article.


We note that using general reading ability as the key dimension in 20/20 analysis will result in the identification of most students now in special education (more than 75%). We also recognize that reading is an important and continuous dimension of achievement, that it is among the variables most predictlye of school dropout and other problems of students, and that it does not assume a typology (no direct labels). Identifying reading ability is low in cost and should free many psychologists from a life of test-giving and bring from them a broader version of psychology in the schools. We do not propose that 20/20 procedures should foreclose additional means of identifying students for special help. As noted in the original article, we think parents and teachers should be free to refer students for intensive and specialized help.


Admittedly, the 20/20 first-phase procedure for student identification is simple. We consider this simplicity to be a strength. It is easily understood by teachers, parents, and other stakeholders. We note, on the other hand, that current practices for categorizing and placing students in special education programs are exceedingly and unnecessarily complex, controversial, and mostly invalid. For example, the National Academy of Science panel that studied placement practices in special education concluded that there is "no educational justification for the current categorization system that separates these three [mildly retarded, learning disabled, and compensatory education or Chapter 1] groups in the schools" (Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982, p. 102).

The 20/20 analysis requires a process in which educators and parents, working cob laboratively as partners, set goals for the school, decide jointly how best to use the available expertise and resources, and attend individually to students at the margins. The idea of 20/20 is to "liberate" the schools from the constrictions of current categorical programs and allow teachers and parents '|to think openly and creatively about how to best meet the needs of students at the margins" (Reynolds & Zetlin, 1993). Soodak and Podell suggested a preference for "process oriented" approaches to improvement of conditions for learning. That approach may fit with our ideas on how attention and resources should be turned to improvements in instructional activities, rather than to concentrate so much on mere classification and allocation of students to the various categories (Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1990). But this moves the discussion to Phase 2 of 20/20 analysis. As noted earlier, Phase 2 will be presented at a later time.


Heller, K. A., Holtzman, W. H., & Messick, S. (Eds.). (1982). Placing children in special education: A strategy for equity. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Hobbs, N. (1975). The future of children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Reynolds, M. C., & Zetlin, A. (1993). A rnanualfor 20/20 analysis: A tool for instructional planning.

Philadelphia: The Center for Research on Human Development and Education, Temple University.

Wang, M. C., Haertel, G. D., & Walberg, H. J. (1990). What influences learning? A content analysis of review literature. Journal of Education Research, 84(1), 30-43.


MAYNARD C. REYNOLDS (CEC #367), Professor Emeritus of Special Education Programs, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. ANDREA ZETLIN (CEC CA Federation), Professor of Special Education, California State University, Los Angeles. MARGARET WANG, Director, Center for Research in Human Development and Education, Temple University, Philadelphia.

Exceptional Children, Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 278-279. c 1993 The Council for Exceptional Children.
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Title Annotation:Point/Counterpoint
Author:Reynolds, Maynard C.; Zetlin, Andrea; Wang, Margaret
Publication:Exceptional Children
Date:Dec 1, 1993
Previous Article:A response to Reynolds, Zetlin, and Wang's "20/20 Analysis: taking a close look at the margins".
Next Article:Inclusive schools movement and the radicalization of special education reform.

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