Skip Navigation
Click to open navigation

Indicator 9: Students With Disabilities
(Last Updated: February 2019)

In school year 201516, the percentage of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was highest for those who were American Indian/Alaska Native (17 percent), followed by those who were Black (16 percent), White (14 percent), of Two or more races (13 percent), Hispanic and Pacific Islander (12 percent each), and Asian (7 percent).

Students with disabilities may require services to provide them access to the same learning opportunities as students without disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)1 supports states and localities in their efforts to aid children and youth with disabilities—and their families—protecting their rights, meeting their individual needs, and improving their educational outcomes. This indicator examines the percentage of students ages 3–21 served by IDEA and the percentage distribution of children and youth receiving services for specific disabilities. The indicator also examines the rate at which students ages 14–21 served by IDEA exited school in school year 2014–15 and the reasons why they exited.


Figure 9.1. Percentage of 3- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, by race/ethnicity: School year 2015–16

Figure 9.1. Percentage of 3- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, by race/ethnicity: School year 2015–16


NOTE: Data include only those children served for whom race/ethnicity was reported. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) database, retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/osepidea/618-data/state-level-data-files/index.html#bcc; and National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD),“State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 204.40.


Thirteen percent of students ages 3–21 enrolled in public schools were served under IDEA in school year 2015–16, a total of 6.7 million individuals. The percentage served varied by race/ethnicity: it was highest for those who were American Indian/Alaska Native (17 percent), followed by those who were Black (16 percent), White (14 percent), of Two or more races (13 percent), Hispanic and Pacific Islander (12 percent each), and Asian (7 percent).


Figure 9.2. Percentage of 3- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, by type of disability and race/ethnicity: School year 2015–16

Figure 9.2. Percentage of 3- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, by type of disability and race/ethnicity: School year 2015–16


NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) database, retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/osepidea/618-data/state-level-data-files/index.html#bcc; and National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD),“State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 204.50.


Among students ages 3–21 who were served under IDEA in 2015–16, the percentages who received services for some types of disabilities differed by race/ethnicity. For example, the percentage of students who received services for a specific learning disability2 was higher for those who were Pacific Islander (43 percent), Hispanic (42 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (40 percent), and Black (37 percent) than for those of the other races/ethnicities shown (with the percentages ranging from 21 to 31 percent). The percentage of students served under IDEA who received services for a speech or language impairment was highest for those who were Asian (26 percent); the percentages for students of the other races/ethnicities shown ranged from 13 to 21 percent. The percentage of students served under IDEA who received services for autism was highest for those who were Asian (21 percent); the percentages for students of the other races/ethnicities shown ranged from 5 to 10 percent. Additionally, the percentage of students served under IDEA who received services for an intellectual disability was highest for those who were Black (9 percent); the percentages for students of the other races/ethnicities shown ranged from 5 to 7 percent.


Figure 9.3. Percentage of 14- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, who exited school, by exit reason and race/ethnicity: School year 2014–15

Figure 9.3. Percentage of 14- to 21-year-olds served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, who exited school, by exit reason and race/ethnicity: School year 2014–15


1 Received a certificate of completion, modified diploma, or some similar document, but did not meet the same standards for graduation as those for students without disabilities.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Section 618 Data Products: State Level Data Files, retrieved July 14, 2017, from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/osepidea/618-data/state-level-data-files/index.html. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 219.90.


Data are also available for students ages 14–21 who received special education services under IDEA and exited school during school year 2014–15, including the reasons why they exited. In 2014–15, approximately 395,000 of these 14- to 21-year-olds exited school: over two-thirds (69 percent) graduated with a regular high school diploma, 11 percent received an alternative certificate,3 18 percent dropped out, 1 percent reached maximum age,4 and less than one-half of 1 percent died.

Top


Endnotes

1 Formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, amended in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (P.L. 94-152). See Appendix A: Guide to Sources for more information about the history and requirements of IDEA.
2 “Specific learning disability” is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, motor, or intellectual disabilities, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
3 Received a certificate of completion, modified diploma, or similar document, but did not meet the same standards for graduation as did students without disabilities.
4 Each state determines its maximum age to receive special education services. At the time these data were collected, the maximum age across states generally ranged from 20 to 22 years old.