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Chapter 1: Demographic Context

Indicator 5: Special Needs

Among 9th-grade students in 2009, a higher percentage of males (13 percent) than females (7 percent) received special education services.

In 2009, about 10 percent of 9th-grade students received special education services. A higher percentage of male (13 percent) than female (7 percent) students received special education services. This pattern was also found among males and females for Whites (13 vs. 8 percent), Blacks (16 vs. 7 percent), Hispanics (12 vs. 6 percent), and students of two or more races (14 vs. 7 percent).

Differences in the receipt of special education services were also found across racial/ethnic groups. A higher percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives (23 percent) than Whites (11 percent), Blacks (11 percent), Hispanics (9 percent), Asians (2 percent), and students of two or more races (11 percent) received special education services. Among male students, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Natives (27 percent), Whites (13 percent), Blacks (16 percent), Hispanics (12 percent), and males of two or more races (14 percent) received special education services than Asian males (2 percent). Among female students, no statistically significant differences were found between American Indians/Alaska Natives and other racial/ethnic groups, partially due to small sample sizes. A higher percentage of Whites (8 percent), Blacks (7 percent), Hispanics (6 percent), and females of two or more races (7 percent) received special education services than Asian females (1 percent).

Using a different data source and year, this indicator also examines 12- to 17-year-olds who have ever been diagnosed with a learning disability. In 2008, about 9 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds had ever been diagnosed with a learning disability, with a higher percentage of 12- to 17-year-old males than females (11 vs. 7 percent) diagnosed. This pattern was also found among males and females for Whites (14 vs. 8 percent) and Blacks (11 vs. 7 percent).

Among these data on 12- to 17-year-olds, few differences in learning diagnosis rates were found across racial/ethnic groups possibly due, in part, to small sample sizes. In 2008, a higher percentage of 12- to 17-year-old Whites (11 percent) than 12- to 17-year-old Hispanics (6 percent) had ever been diagnosed with a learning disability. In addition, 9 percent of Black youth had ever been diagnosed with a learning disability. No measurable differences in learning diagnosis rates were found between Black youths and White or Hispanic youths.

The percentages of 12- to 17-year-olds ever diagnosed with a learning disability in 2008, overall and by sex, were not measurably different from those in 1999.

Technical Notes

Data on children diagnosed with learning disabilities are based on parent responses to the question "Has a representative from a school or a health professional ever told you that [child's name] had a learning disability?"


Figure 5-1. Percentage of students receiving special education services in 9th grade, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2009

Figure 5-2. Percentage of children ages 1217 ever having been diagnosed with a learning disability, by race/ ethnicity and sex: 2008

Table E-5-1 Percentage of students receiving special education services in 9th grade, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2009

Table E-5-2 Percentage of children ages 1217 ever having been diagnosed with a learning disability, by sex and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 1999–2008

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