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Special Education Statistics



Special education is the federally mandated service to disabled children from birth to age 21 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This article is a collection of special education statistics.

This article draws on the Digest of Education Statistics 2005, published by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as part of the US Department of Education (USDOE).

Note that the years used are chosen to show change over time and to allow for comparable statistics in situations in which data collection changed over time.

The government tracks the types of disabilities of the children who are being served in each year. Since the first year for which records are given, there has been a dramatic change in the percentage of types of disability:

Disability

1976-77

1980-81

2003-4

Specific Learning Disability

21.5

35.3

42.7

Speech or Language Impairments

35.2

28.2

21.7

Mental Retardation

26.0

20.0

8.9

Emotional Disturbance

7.7

8.4

7.4

Hearing Impairment

2.4

1.9

1.2

All Other Conditions

7.2

6.2

18.1

You can see that the number of students with speech or language impairments and mental retardation has dropped markedly, while specific learning disabilities and other conditions (which includes orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, visual impairments, multiple disabilities, deaf-blindness, autism and traumatic brain injury, and developmental delay) has more than doubled.

At the same time, there has been an increase in the numbers of children receiving special education services.

1976-77

1980-81

2003-4

Number of Students served

3,694,000

4,144,000

6,634,000

And the percentage of children in the age 3 to 21 population receiving special education services has also increased.

1976-77

1980-81

2003-4

Percentage of all children receiving special education services

8.3

10.1

13.7

As time has passed, the amount of time students receiving special education services are spending in the regular classroom has increased.

Time Spent Outside Regular Classroom

1989

1999

2004

Less than 21%

31.7

37.5

24.9

21-60%

45.9

29.8

20.3

More than 60%

51.9

26.5

17.4

In 2004, the disabilities with which students were most often spending more time in the classroom were speech or language impairments, developmental delays, visual impairments, other health impairments, and specific learning disabilities. On the other hand, students with mental retardation, multiple disabilities, and autism were the most likely to spend the majority of their school time outside the classroom.

In 2003-4, the states with the lowest percentages of students ages 3-21 receiving special education in public school were Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Texas and Nevada (11.1 to 11.7 percent respectively. The states with the highest percentages of students ages 3-21 receiving special education in public schools were Rhode Island, where over a fifth of all students are receiving special education services, Maine, West Virginia, and New Jersey. The US average is 13.7 %.

The data from both 2001-2 and 2002-3 support the conclusion that students with visual impairments, hearing impairments, and traumatic brain injury are the most likely to graduate with a diploma, as opposed to other outcomes as the termination of their schooling experience. Students with specific learning disabilities and mental retardation are the most likely to exit the system simply because they’ve reached the maximum age at which services are offered within the public school setting.

Written by Mary Elizabeth.

Sources Used for This Article

http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006030