About 18% of Rhode Island students are in special education, compared with just 9% in Texas, and an average of 13%, nationwide, an analysis of federal government data show. Some say states with higher percentages could face added challenges if a proposed $1 billion reduction in federal aid for special education is realized. "It is going to be a huge cut," said Lindsay Jones, senior director for policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children. "It will be felt in every school in the nation."

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