How many students with disabilities receive services?
Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. Eligible students are those identified by a team of professionals as having a disability that adversely affects academic performance and as being in need of special education and/or related services. Data collection activities to monitor compliance with IDEA began in 1976. The number of students ages 3–21 receiving IDEA services in the United States1 increased from 6.4 million in school year 2010–11 to 7.3 million in school year 2021–22.2 Taken as a percentage of total public school enrollment, this equates to an increase from 13 to 15 percent of students.3 During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of students receiving IDEA services dropped by 1 percent between 2019–20 and 2020–21 (from 7.3 to 7.2 million students), marking the first time this number had decreased since 2011–12. In 2021–22, IDEA enrollment largely rebounded to its 2019–20 pre-pandemic level (7.3 million students). Meanwhile, total public school enrollment dropped by 3 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2020 and then remained around the same number in fall 2021 (see Public School Enrollment). As a result, the percentage of public school students who were served under IDEA continued its upward trend each year during the pandemic and was higher in 2021–22 (15 percent) than in 2019–20 (14 percent).
Students ages 3–21 served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as a percentage of public school enrollment, by state and jurisdiction: School year 2021–22
— Not available. NOTE: The U.S. average is for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Percentages are calculated and categorized using unrounded data. For Louisiana, data on 3- to 5-year-olds served under IDEA are for 2020–21 instead of 2021–22 because 2021–22 data for this age group were not available for this state.
In school year 2021–22, across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of students served under IDEA ranged from 11 to 20 percent of total public school enrollment.4 The number of students receiving IDEA services was equivalent to
In other U.S. jurisdictions in 2021–22, the number of students ages 3–21 who received special education and/or related services under IDEA was equivalent to 31 percent of total public school enrollment. The number of students receiving IDEA services was equivalent to
Additionally, 17 percent of students in Bureau of Indian Education schools received special education and/or related services under IDEA.
1 Data throughout this Fast Fact represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia unless otherwise noted. 2 Totals presented in this Fast Fact include imputations for states for which data were unavailable. See reference tables in the Digest of Education Statistics for more information. 3 The number of children served as a percentage of total enrollment is based on total public school enrollment in prekindergarten through grade 12. However, not all students served under IDEA receive education services in public school environments. 4 Throughout this Fast Fact, percentages are calculated and categorized using unrounded data. 5 Data were not available for American Samoa and Palau.
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Students with Disabilities. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved June 25, 2023, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cgg.
Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.
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