Nation’s Schools Serving More Students Under IDEA
New federal data shows that there are more children in special education and they are accounting for a greater percentage of public school students across the country.
For the 2017-2018 school year, there were 7 million students ages 3 to 21 receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These students represented 14 percent of all kids attending public schools.
The figures come from an annual report released late last month by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics that offers a snapshot of what’s happening in American education.
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“Between 2011–12 and 2017–18, the number of students served (under IDEA) increased from 6.4 million to 7.0 million and the percentage served increased from 13 percent of total public school enrollment to 14 percent of total public school enrollment,” the report found.
Of children in special education, the largest group — 34 percent — had a specific learning disability. Roughly 1 in 5 had a speech or language impairment and 14 percent were classified as having “other health impairment.”
Autism accounted for 10 percent of special education students while 7 percent had developmental delay and 6 percent had intellectual disability.
Most students with disabilities ages 6 to 21 spent at least 80 percent of the school day in general education classrooms, the report found, but the odds of inclusion varied by disability type. While 65 percent of kids with developmental delay were in regular classes most of the time, just 17 percent of those with intellectual disability and 14 percent of children with multiple disabilities were.
Among special education students who exited school during the 2016-2017 school year, 71 percent received a regular diploma, according to the federal data, but that figure dropped to 43 percent for students with intellectual disabilities.