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Students with disabilities

Question:
How many students with disabilities receive services?

Response:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975, mandates that children and youth ages 3–21 with disabilities be provided a free and appropriate public school education. The percentage of total public school enrollment that represents children served by federally supported special education programs increased from 8.3 percent to 13.8 percent between 1976–77 and 2004–05. Much of this overall increase can be attributed to a rise in the percentage of students identified as having specific learning disabilities from 1976–77 (1.8 percent) to 2004–05 (5.7 percent). The overall percentage of students being served in programs for those with disabilities decreased between 2004–05 (13.8 percent) and 2015–16 (13.2 percent). However, there were different patterns of change in the percentages of students served with some specific conditions between 2004–05 and 2015–16. The percentage of children identified as having other health impairments (limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes) rose from 1.1 to 1.8 percent of total public school enrollment; the percentage with autism rose from 0.4 to 1.2 percent; and the percentage with developmental delay rose from 0.7 to 0.9 percent. The percentage of children with specific learning disabilities declined from 5.7 percent to 4.6 percent of total public school enrollment during this period.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 (NCES 2018-070), Chapter 2.

Children 3 to 21 years old served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by type of disability: Selected years, 1976–77 through 2015–16
Type of disability 1976–77 1980–81 1990–91 2000–01 2005–06 2006–07 2007–081 2008–091 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16
Number served (in thousands)
All disabilities 3,694 4,144 4,710 6,296 6,718 6,687 6,597 6,483 6,481 6,436 6,401 6,429 6,464 6,555 6,677
Autism 93 223 258 296 336 378 417 455 498 538 576 617
Deaf-blindness 3 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
Developmental delay 213 339 333 357 354 368 382 393 402 410 419 434
Emotional disturbance 283 347 389 480 477 464 442 420 407 390 373 362 354 349 347
Hearing impairment 88 79 58 77 79 80 79 78 79 78 78 77 77 76 75
Intellectual disability 961 830 534 624 556 534 500 478 463 448 435 430 425 423 425
Multiple disabilities 68 96 131 141 142 138 130 131 130 132 133 132 132 131
Orthopedic impairment 87 58 49 82 71 69 67 70 65 63 61 59 56 52 47
Other health impairment2 141 98 55 303 570 610 641 659 689 716 743 779 817 862 909
Preschool disabled3 390
Specific learning disabilities 796 1,462 2,129 2,860 2,740 2,665 2,569 2,476 2,431 2,361 2,303 2,277 2,264 2,278 2,298
Speech or language impairment 1,302 1,168 985 1,388 1,468 1,475 1,454 1,426 1,416 1,396 1,373 1,356 1,334 1,332 1,337
Traumatic brain injury 16 24 25 25 26 25 26 26 26 26 26 27
Visual impairment 38 31 23 29 29 29 29 29 29 28 28 28 28 28 27
Number served as a percent of total enrollment4
All disabilities 8.3 10.1 11.4 13.3 13.7 13.6 13.4 13.2 13.1 13.0 12.9 12.9 12.9 13.0 13.2
Autism 0.2 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.2
Deaf-blindness # # # # # # # # # # # # # #
Developmental delay 0.5 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.9
Emotional disturbance 0.6 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
Hearing impairment 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1
Intellectual disability 2.2 2.0 1.3 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.8
Multiple disabilities 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Orthopedic impairment 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Other health impairment2 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.6 1.2 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.6 1.7 1.8
Preschool disabled3 0.9
Specific learning disabilities 1.8 3.6 5.2 6.1 5.6 5.4 5.2 5.0 4.9 4.8 4.7 4.6 4.5 4.5 4.6
Speech or language impairment 2.9 2.9 2.4 2.9 3.0 3.0 2.9 2.9 2.9 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.6 2.7
Traumatic brain injury # # 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Visual impairment 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1

— Not available.
† Not applicable.
# Rounds to zero.
1Data do not include Vermont, for which 2007–08 and 2008–09 data were not available. In 2006–07, the total number of 3- to 21-year-olds served in Vermont was 14,010.
2Other health impairments include having limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as a heart condition, tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, nephritis, asthma, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, leukemia, or diabetes.
3For 1990–91, preschool children are not included in the counts by disability condition, but are separately reported. For other years, preschool children are included in the counts by disability condition.
4Based on the total enrollment in public schools, prekindergarten through 12th grade.
NOTE: Prior to October 1994, children and youth with disabilities were served under Chapter 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Data reported in this table for years prior to 1994–95 include children ages 0–21 served under Chapter 1. Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia only. Increases since 1987–88 are due in part to new legislation enacted in fall 1986, which added a mandate for public school special education services for 3- to 5-year-old children with disabilities. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 (NCES 2018-070), Table 204.30.

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