A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of all Children with Disabilities - 1995

Number of Children and Youth with Disabilities Served Under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP)

Total Number of Children and Youth Served

A total of 5,373,077 infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities from birth through age 21 were served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) during the 1993-94 school year, 217,127 (4.2 percent) more than 1992-93 (see table 1.3). This is the largest yearly increase since the inception of the two programs in 1976. The rate of growth in the number of children and youth receiving special education continues to exceed the rate of growth in the number of the birth through age 21 population (which in 1993-94 increased by 517,301, or 0.6 percent). It also continues to exceed the rate of growth in the number of children and youth enrolled in school (which in 1993-94 increased by 1,154,074, or 2.69 percent). The percentage of children from birth through age 21 in the resident population served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) increased from 6.4 percent in 1992-93 to 6.6 percent in 1993-94.


TABLE 1.3 Children and Youth Served Under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP):a/ Percentage Change and Number Served, School Years 1976-77 through 1993-94
                 Change in                Total Number                  Served from                               Chapter 1 School Year   Previous Year    Total Served    Part B        (SOP)                    (%)
-------------------------------------------------------------------   1976-77           --           3,708,601    3,484,756    223,832   1977-78          1.8           3,777,286    3,484,756    222,732   1978-79          3.8           3,919,073    3,554,554    225,480   1979-80          3.0           4,036,219    3,693,593    233,744   1980-81          3.5           4,177,689    3,802,475    243,708   1981-82          1.3           4,233,282    3,933,981    242,936   1982-83          1.5           4,298,327    4,052,595    245,732   1983-84          1.0           4,341,399    4,094,108    247,291   1984-85b/        0.5           4,363,031    4,113,312    249,719   1985-86          0.2           4,370,244    4,121,104    249,140   1986-87          1.2           4,421,601    4,166,692    254,909   1987-88          1.4           4,485,702    4,226,504    259,198   1988-89          1.8           4,568,063    4,305,690    262,373    1989-90          2.4           4,675,619    4,411,681    263,938   1990-91          2.8           4,807,441    4,547,368    260,073   1991-92          3.7           4,986,043    4,714,087    271,956   1992-93          3.4           5,155,950    4,886,411    269,509   1993-94          4.2           5,373,077    5,095,514    277,563 

a/ From 1988-89 to the present, these numbers include children 3 through 21 years of age counted under Part B and children from birth to age 21 counted under Chapter 1 (SOP).Prior to 1988-89, children from birth through age 20 were served under Chapter 1 (SOP). The totals do not include infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 served under Part H who were not served under the Chapter 1 (SOP) program.

b/ Beginning in 1984-85, the number of children with disabilities reported for the most recent year reflects revisions to State data received by the Office of Special Education Programs between the July 1 grant award date and October 1. Updates received from States for previous years are included, so totals may not match those reported in previous Annual Reports to Congress. Before 1984-85, Reports provided data as of the grant award date.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).


Respectively, Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) programs served 209,073 and 8,054 more children and youth in 1993-94. The Chapter 1 (SOP) increase contrasts with the 2,447 decrease that occurred between 1991-92 and 1992-93. However, this increase represents the sum of two very different trends that occurred within the Chapter 1 (SOP) program--namely, a significant increase in the number of birth through age 2 children served and a decrease in the number of those served in all other age groups.The number of birth through age 2 children served in Chapter 1 (SOP) programs increased by 25.1 percent (18,757) from 74,830 to 93,587. The number of students age 3 through 21 decreased by 10,703 or 5.5 percent, from 194,679 to 183,976 (see table 1.4).


TABLE 1.4 Number of Children Served Under Chapter 1 (SOP) by Age Group: School Years 1992-93 through 1993-94
                                                        Percent of          Number of Children           Change            Total Birth Age     1992-93      1993-94      Number   Percent      through 21
------------------------------------------------------------------ 0-2      74,830       93,587      18,757     25.1           33.7 3-5      16,372       16,246        -126     -0.8            5.9 6-11     71,727       66,265      -5,462     -7.6           23.9 12-17    81,501       78,351      -3,150     -3.9           28.2 18-21    25,079       23,114      -1,965     -7.8            8.3 0-21    269,509      277,563       8,054      3.0          100.0 
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).

The Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) programs differed with regard to the number of students served and the relative proportions of students served across the various disability categories. Of the total number of children and youth from birth through age 21 served during the 1993-94 school year, 5,095,514 (94.8 percent) were served under Part B and 277,563 (5.2 percent) were served under Chapter 1 (SOP).

Although over 96 percent of all students age 6 through 21 were served under Part B, there is considerable variation in the distribution of students by disability category across the two programs. On one hand, almost all students (over 90 percent) with speech or language impairments, learning disabilities, other health impairments, serious emotional impairments, mental retardation, and orthopedic impairments were served under Part B. On the other hand, a relatively large percentage of students with deaf-blindness (38.7 percent), hearing impairments (25.1 percent), visual impairments (21.4 percent), traumatic brain injury (20.7 percent), and autism (20.6 percent) were served in Chapter 1 (SOP). This difference may be attributed to the relatively larger percentage of students with moderate and severe disabilities that have historically been served under the Chapter 1 (SOP) program.

Age Groups of Students Served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP)

The two largest age groups served by the two programs in 1993-94 were age 6 through 11 (2,464,237) and 12 through 17 (2,079,475) (see table 1.5). Analyzing the growth in the number of children by age range provides some insights into the dynamics of the 4.2 percent increase in the number of children served under the two programs. Students age 6 through 21 were the largest portion (89.1 percent) of the special education population. However, that age group increased only 3.5 percent (from 4,625,591 to 4,786,065). The largest growth rates were 25.1 percent for children from birth through age 2 (from 74,830 to 93,587) and 8.3 percent for children age 3 through 5 (from 455,529 to 493,425). Although children from birth through age 5 are only 10.9 percent of all children receiving special education, they accounted for 33.4 percent of the growth of the special education population (see table 1.5).


TABLE 1.5 Number of Children Served Under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) by Age Group: School Years 1992-93 through 1993-94

                                                        Percent of            Number of Children         Change            Total Birth Age       1992-93      1993-94    Number   Percent      through 21
-------------------------------------------------------------------  0-2a/     4,830        93,587    18,757     25.1            1.7  3-5     455,529       493,425    37,896      8.3            9.2  6-11  2,399,917     2,464,237    64,320      2.7           45.9 12-17  1,990,096     2,079,475    89,379      4.5           38.7 18-21    235,578       242,353     6,775      2.9            4.5  0-21  5,155,950     5,373,077   217,127      4.2          100.0 

a/ All of the infants and toddlers age birth through two were served under Chapter 1 (SOP).

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).


The increase in the number of children served from birth through age 2 can be attributed partly to the expansion of early intervention programs. One reason for the decrease in the number of school-age children served under Chapter 1 (SOP) is that more States were serving students under Part B. States maintain that the funding differential between the two programs was no longer significant enough to justify separate administrative programs. Another reason that States may have served more students under Part B is that they anticipated the merger of the Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) programs.

Disabilities of Students Served under IDEA, Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP)

Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) served 4,786,065 students age 6 through 21 during the 1993-94 school year. The number of students in each disability category is reported in table 1.6.4 Because the 1986 Amendments to EHA (now IDEA), P.L. 99-457, ended the practice of collecting data on children from birth through age 5 by disability, the information in this section refers only to children age 6 through 21.

Students with specific learning disabilities continue to account for more than half of all students with disabilities (51.1 percent). During the 1993-94 school year, 2,444,020 students with specific learning disabilities were served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP), 3.3 percent (77,526) more than in 1992-93. Students with speech or language impairments (21.1 percent), mental retardation (11.6 percent), and serious emotional disturbance (8.7 percent) make up an additional 41.4 percent of all students with disabilities age 6 through 21.

The increases within several disability categories were proportionately greater than the 3.5 percent increase across all categories (see table 1.6). The largest increase occurred in the students with traumatic brain injury category, which increased from 3,960 to 5,295 (33.7 percent). Significant increases also occurred in the categories of students with other health impairments (from 66,063 to 83,279, or 26.1 percent) and autism (from 15,580 to 18,903, or 21.3 percent). Increases also occurred in other categories:orthopedic impairments (4,028, or 7.7 percent), multiple disabilities (6,467, or 6.3 percent), hearing impairments (3,633 or 6.0 percent), and visual impairments (1,391, or 5.9 percent).


TABLE 1.6 Number and Percentage Change of Students Age 6 through 21 Served Under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP): School Years 1992-93 through 1993-94

                             Total                   Change Disability            1992-93     1993-94     Number        Percent
------------------------------------------------------------------- Specific learning  disabilities        2,366,494    2,444,020    77,526          3.3  Speech or language  impairments           998,049    1,009,379    11,330          1.1  Mental retardation    532,365      553,992    21,627          4.1  Serious emotional  disturbance           401,659      414,279    12,620          3.1  Multiple  disabilities          103,279      109,746     6,467          6.3  Hearing impairments    60,616       64,249     3,633          6.0  Orthopedic  impairments            52,588       56,616     4,028          7.7  Other health  impairments            66,063       83,279    17,216         26.1  Visual impairments     23,544       24,935     1,391          5.9  Autism                 15,580       18,903     3,323         21.3  Deaf-blindnessa/        1,394        1,372       -22         -1.6  Traumatic brain  injury                  3,960        5,295     1,335         33.7  All disabilities    4,625,591    4,786,065   160,474          3.5 

a/ 9,783 persons between the ages of birth to 21 have been identified by coordinators of the State and Multi-State Services for Children with Deaf-Blindness as required under [20 U.S.C 1422(c)(1) and (2)].See Appendix E.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS).


The size of the increases in the number of students with autism or traumatic brain injury is probably related to the fact that these reporting categories were only recently established.The 1993-94 school year was only the second year States were required to report the student count in these categories. Also, many States reported that these increases occurred because enhanced technical assistance enabled districts to improve their ability to report students in these two Federal disability categories.

Impact of Students with ADD on the Number of Students with Other Health Impairments

The increase in the number of students with other health impairments appears to be the result of growth in the service population. Specifically, the number of students with attention deficit disorder (ADD) appears to be increasing. Representatives of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) conducted telephone interviews with personnel from special education offices in eight States that had experienced significant increases in the number of students with other health impairments to determine if this increase was attributable to the identification of more students with ADD. Respondents in seven States reported that increased identification of students with ADD was a major factor in the increase in the number of students served with other health impairments. These respondents reported that dissemination of the Federal memorandum clarifying the Federal policy regarding service to students with ADD greatly influenced the identification of students with ADD in their States. The respondents further reported that there were no significant changes in diagnostic or identification procedures that would account for these increases. One respondent reported that the number of students in all disability categories was increasing in that State, and that the increase in the number of students with other health impairments could not be attributed to any one factor.

The study also assessed the extent to which changes in classification criteria, either in other disability categories or within the other health impairments category, affected the increases in the other health impairments category. The majority of the respondents reported that their State did not experience a decrease in another disability category that could have been attributed to a shift in classification of students into the other health impairments category. Only two respondents reported increases in other specific health impairments (such as students with medically fragile conditions, fetal alcohol syndrome, respiratory problems, or students that abused drugs or alcohol) that could have contributed to the increase.

Finally, the eight respondents were asked if recent increases in the number of students with other health impairments were due to changes in the State or local service configurations. Only four respondents indicated that there had been substantive changes in their State's service configurations at either the State or local level. The only change specifically related to students with ADD was the distribution of improved instructions to local districts on how to better serve students with ADD. The most common service configuration change reported was the increased use of Medicaid funding, which has resulted in some increases in health service provision.

Increase in the Number of Students Served with Learning Disabilities

Since IDEA was enacted, the percentage of the special education enrollment served by Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) and identified as having learning disabilities has increased.Between 1976 and 1994, this group increased from 23.8 percent to 51.1 percent of all students with disabilities. As previously mentioned, 3.3 percent more students with specific learning disabilities were served in 1993-94 than in 1992-93.

Researchers and practitioners have heatedly debated the causes for these increases. Hallahan (1992) speculates that two primary factors contribute to the documented increases in the number of students with specific learning disabilities. First, the field of learning disabilities is relatively new, and with each successive year, school personnel and parents become more adept at recognizing children with specific learning disabilities. It follows that the number of students identified will level off as nearly all students are identified. Second, Hallahan cites changes in social/cultural supports over the past 20 years as well as higher levels of poverty and substance abuse among pregnant women, coupled with diminishing social support, as causes for the increased prevalence of specific learning disabilities. Hallahan notes that "of all the disability categories, learning disabilities is one of the most sensitive barometers of the biomedical status of children and the psychosocial climate in which they live" (p. 524). Variations in assessment practices may also contribute to State-to-State and year-to-year fluctuations in the rate at which students are identified with specific learning disabilities.


4 Students are reported by the following 12 Federal disability categories: specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, visual impairments, autism, deaf-blindness, and traumatic brain injury.
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