This is Volume 1 in the three-volume publication, The Handbook of Special Education: Research & Practice.;The Handbook is an indispensable reference work which examines the research base, broadly defined to represent current knowledge that can be used in formulating plans to improve the chances of schooling success for all students, especially students with special needs. The term 'students with special needs' is used here to refer to students with physical, behavioural or cognitive disabilities; students from economically, culturally or linguistically disadvantaged backgrounds; and students with chronic low achievement or those who otherwise can be considered academically at risk. The Handbook is organized in three volumes under nine major topics. This volume focuses on the areas of learning characteristics of handicapped students and the provision of effective education, the effectiveness of differential programming in serving handicapped students, and noncategorical programming for mildly handicapped students.