A growing number of students with disabilities are spending most of the day in regular education classrooms alongside their typically-developing peers, according to new federal statistics.

As of 2013, more than 6 in 10 school-age students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act spent at least 80 percent of their day in regular classrooms. By contrast, roughly half of students with disabilities met that threshold in 2004.

The figures come from a report to Congress issued late last year by the U.S. Department of Education outlining the progress of the nation’s special education students.

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In sum, the annual report indicated that more than 5.8 million students ages 6 to 21 were served under IDEA in 2013. Meanwhile, 745,000 children ages 3 to 5 and 339,000 infants and toddlers received services through the program.

While the overall number of school-age children with disabilities declined between 2004 and 2013, the percentage of those identified as having autism soared by as much as 258 percent across age groups over the 10-year period, the report found.

Some 95 percent of special education students spent at least some of their day in general education classrooms in 2013, according to the federal data. However, students identified as having intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities were least likely to spend the majority of their time in inclusive environments.

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