THE STUDENTS

Students with Disabilities

According to data collected for the 2000-2001 school year, students with disabilities who are ages 6 through 17 constitute 11.5 percent of the total student enrollment for prekindergarten through 12th grade (U.S. Department of Education, 2002, p. II-19). This percentage accounts for nearly 5.5 million children, the majority of whom are educated in the public school setting, rather than in schools devoted exclusively to serving students with disabilities. States report disability data in 13 categories. Table 2-1 provides information on the percentages of students in each of the categories enrolled in schools in the United States and outlying areas (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands).

Students with disabilities who qualify for special education are covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this law, these students must be provided with an individualized education plan (IEP), which spells out the goals for each student’s instruction and the kinds of services he or she needs, including the accommodations the student requires for standardized assessments. The student’s education must, by law, be tailored to his or her

TABLE 2-1 Number and Percentage of All Students with Disabilities Ages 6 Through 17 Served Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act During the 2000-2001 School Year

Disability

Number

Percentage

Specific learning disabilities

2,748,569

50.0

Speech or language impairment

1,088,863

19.8

Mental retardation

545,465

9.9

Emotional disabilities

448,310

8.2

Multiple disabilities

106,926

1.9

Hearing impairments

66,092

1.2

Orthopedic impairments

68,253

1.2

Other health impairments

282,470

5.1

Visual impairments

24,033

0.4

Autism

74,166

1.3

Deaf-blindness

1,087

0.0

Traumatic brain injury

13,160

0.2

Developmental delay

28,935

0.5

All disabilities

5,496,329

 

NOTE: Percentage total does not add up to 100 percent because numbers were rounded.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education (2002).



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