Four students were observed systematically at the time when they were referred to special education, and again one month and two months after placement in special education, to examine changes in the nature of instruction received and the students' academic responding times as a function of special education intervention. At each observation time, data were recorded for two full school days on 11 instructional variables and 19 student response variables in 10-second intervals. Considerable variability was evident among students in the amount of time academic instruction was allocated to them and in the amount of time in which they engaged in academic responding. Changes in instruction and student responding as a function of special education intervention were inconsistent across students. Implications for special education policies are discussed.