WVN #617 contains a somewhat informative piece entitled "SPED GETS TOP MARKS."

A few high points (taken a bit out of order) as reported by district-hired educational consultants Robert Gass and Dorsey Yearly.

  • An overarching commitment to inclusive programming, the quality and professionalism of the staff, and the student-centered nature of the system were noted. Wide support for the preschool programming in its current model were also noted. Challenges include support for emotional disabilities, scheduling, a possibly excessive increase in mandated formal evaluations, and support for teaching assistants.

  • As to results, Wayland SPED students had higher MCAS ELA scores than any other of the six districts, with both higher percentages of Advanced/Proficient scores, at 65%, and a lower percentage of Warning/Failing scores, at 9%. In Math Wayland maintained the lowest level of Warning/Failing (14%) and was second in Advanced/Proficient (49%).

  • The consultants found Wayland to have the highest SPED eligibility rate, at 19%, of the six comparable towns it studied, with Lexington lowest at 13.6% and Weston next highest after Wayland at 17.1%. ... Overall Wayland eligibility has remained constant for the last five years.

A possible warning flag might go up here--high eligibility might equate to higher cost. Continuing with the findings reveals that not to be the case, however.

  • In SPED spending Wayland fell in the middle of the pack at 19.2% of the total school budget, with Weston lowest at 17.2% and Wellesley highest at 25.2%. SPED spending in Wayland has increased from 16% of the budget since 2010.

Calling Wayland's position "middle of the pack" is a bit misleading. Wayland is essentially tied with Westwood (19.0%) for second much closer to the low end of the range than the high end.

Where WVN really falls short of the mark, however, is in this paragraph that ends their piece.

Quote Originally Posted by WVN
One issue not raised in the report or at the meeting but raised by taxpayers in the past is the possible other side of the coin of the high performance of the Wayland SPED program: that the excellence of the program leads parents of children with special needs to move to Wayland specifically to take advantage of the program. That could at least in part explain why Wayland has the highest eligibility rate of the studied towns, and the perception by some that Wayland has exceptionally high costs for Special Education.
Yes, it's possible that Wayland's excellent delivery of special education services makes it something of a magnet for families needing such services. That "magnetism" does NOT appear to be leading to higher costs, however. Any such perceptions "by some" (an old WVN trick used to dodge having to do research or find anyone with such a belief) are merely that, then: (incorrect) perceptions.

This failing of the WVN piece notwithstanding, Wayland should certainly be proud of its inclusion-based and cost-effective program and its capable director serving students and families facing educational and other challenges.