How many students with disabilities receive services?
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 was slightly lower in 2017–18 (13.7) than in 2004–05 (13.8 percent). However, there were different patterns of change in the percentages of students served with some specific conditions between 2004–05 and 2017–18. 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 2.0 percent of total public school enrollment; the percentage with autism rose from 0.4 to 1.4 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, 2018 (NCES 2020-009), 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 2017–18|
|Type of disability||1976–77||1980–81||1990–91||2000–01||2007–081||2008–091||2009–10||2010–11||2011–12||2012–13||2013–14||2014–15||2015–16||2016–172,3||2017–182,4|
|Number served (in thousands)|
|Other health impairment5||141||98||55||303||641||659||689||716||743||779||817||862||909||955||1,002|
|Preschool disabled6||†||†||390||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||†||Specific learning disabilities||796||1,462||2,129||2,860||2,569||2,476||2,431||2,361||2,303||2,277||2,264||2,278||2,298||2,318||2,342|
|Speech or language impairment||1,302||1,168||985||1,388||1,454||1,426||1,416||1,396||1,373||1,356||1,334||1,332||1,337||1,337||1,357|
|Traumatic brain injury||—||—||—||16||25||26||25||26||26||26||26||26||27||27||27|
|Number served as a percent of total enrollment7|
|Other health impairment5||0.3||0.2||0.1||0.6||1.3||1.3||1.4||1.4||1.5||1.6||1.6||1.7||1.8||1.9||2.0|
|Specific learning disabilities||1.8||3.6||5.2||6.1||5.2||5.0||4.9||4.8||4.7||4.6||4.5||4.5||4.6||4.6||4.6|
|Speech or language impairment||2.9||2.9||2.4||2.9||2.9||2.9||2.9||2.8||2.8||2.7||2.7||2.6||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||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.
2Data in the 2016–17 and 2017–18 columns include 2015–16 data for 3- to 21-year-olds in Wisconsin because 2016–17 and 2017–18 data were not available for children served in Wisconsin.
3Data in the 2016–17 column include 2015–16 data for 3- to 5-year-olds in Nebraska because 2016–17 data were not available for children in that age group served in Nebraska.
4Data in the 2017–18 column include 2016–17 data for 3- to 5-year-olds in Minnesota and 6- to 21-year-olds in Maine and Vermont because 2017–18 data were not available for children in those age groups served in those states.
5Other 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.
6For 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.
7Based on total public school enrollment in 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 (ESEA) 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 of ESEA. 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, 2018 (NCES 2020-009), Table 204.30.
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