With a growing number of students qualifying for disability services, investors are eyeing the special education market as one ripe with profit potential.

Private equity firms and venture capitalists are increasingly pumping money into a wide variety of companies looking to meet the needs of public schools. Such investment has skyrocketed from $13 million in 2005 to some $389 million last year.

Driving this trend in no small part is growth in special education, particularly in light of surging autism rates. School districts are increasingly turning to private firms in search of better and less costly ways of serving this population and a host of companies are at the ready.

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Critics charge that such private firms are merely in education for the money and are not necessarily improving student performance.

Their cries, however, appear to be going largely unheard. One company which runs special education programs for hundreds of school districts across the country says they’ve seen 15 to 20 percent growth in each of the last three years, reports Reuters. To read more click here.