A Place to Learn: The Development of a Free Appropriate Public Education for All Children
The 1950s: Special Education Reemerged.
The Civil Right to an Equal Education Was Recognized.
In 1904 in Europe, Binet and Simon developed tests to determine if a child "suspected of disabilities" should be transferred to a special education class. The test determined if the child was unable to benefit from regular class instruction. In 1916, Terman standardized the Binet-Simon test for American children. Thus began our history of systematically sorting children into special and regular education. It would take most of the rest of the 20th century to turn that tide around.
The number of special classes grew from 1915 to 1930. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, there was a dramatic decrease. At that point, according to the Arc US, "Mildly retarded children either stayed at home or attended regular classes. The more severely retarded youngsters were placed in institutions."
Disclaimer: The language used to describe people with developmental disabilities has changed over the past 50 years. In the earlier decades of this time period, terms and language that are now considered disrespectful and offensive, were acceptable.
As our field and society have come to recognize and urge the use of "people first" language and more respectful words to describe people with disabilities in spoken and written language, terms such as "retarded," "handicapped," "trainable," and "educable" have been replaced in many instances.
The remnants of what is now considered unacceptable language and terms may still be found in references to official governmental bodies (i.e. President's Panel on Mental Retardation), organizations that were founded during these earlier years, federal laws, reports (i.e. Community Residences for Mentally Retarded Persons), case law, and quotations.