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

Summary and Implications

The total number of children and youth from birth through age 21 served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) increased to 5,373,077 during the 1993-94 school year, 217,127 (4.2 percent) more than in 1992-93. This is the largest yearly increase since the inception of IDEA in 1976. Most of the increase (209,073) occurred in the Part B program. The increase of 8,054 that occurred in the Chapter 1 (SOP) program represents two distinct trends. The number of infants and toddlers from birth through age 2 served under Chapter 1 (SOP) increased sharply by 25.1 percent, while the number of students age 3 through 21 declined by 5.5 percent.

Chapter 1 (SOP) funding decreased during each of its three final years. This trend began in 1992 when Congress moved toward merging Chapter 1 (SOP) with programs authorized under IDEA. However, Part B funds were increased by 4.7 percent, and the combined funding of Chapter 1 (SOP) and Part B rose by 4.0 percent. In 1994, the total Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP) allocation was $2,266,564,000.

The number of students in each of the 12 Federal disability categories remained relatively stable. During the 1993-94 school year, students with specific learning disabilities continued to account for more than half (51.1 percent) of all students age 6 through 21 served under Part B and Chapter 1 (SOP). Students with speech or language impairments (21.1 percent), mental retardation (11.6 percent), and serious emotional disturbance (8.7 percent) made up an additional 41.4 percent of those served. The largest growth occurred in the categories of traumatic brain injuries, students with other health impairments, and autism. The growth in the traumatic brain injury and autism categories was probably due to the relative newness of these reporting categories. The growth in the other health impairments category appears, in part, to be the result of increased service provision to students with ADD. The combination of the continued growth in the learning disabilities category and the growth in the mental retardation and other health impairments categories is one of the main reasons why the number of students served underwent its largest increase ever during 1993-94.

Information collected during 1992-93 revealed that the trend of increased reporting of children age 6 through 21 in regular classrooms is continuing. During the past five years, the percentage of children reported served in regular classrooms has increased from 30.5 percent to 40 percent. However, this change may be related in part to reporting changes in several large States. Over the same period, reported placement of students in resource rooms has decreased and placement of students in separate classes has remained relatively stable. During the 1993-94 school year, 39.8 percent of school-aged children were reported served in regular classroom placements, 31.7 percent in resource rooms, and 23.5 percent in separate classes. Therefore, 95 percent of students with disabilities were served in regular school buildings during the 1993-94 school-year. The percentage of students with disabilities served in regular school buildings has remained stable over the past five years. In the 1988-89 school year, 94 percent of school-aged students with disabilities were served in regular school buildings.

As in past years, placement patterns varied considerably by disability category during the 1992-93 school year. Each of the categories on the placement continuum contained at least some students from each disability category. Students with speech/language impairments, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, other health impairments, and visual impairments were most likely to be served in regular education classes. Students with learning disabilities were most frequently placed in resource rooms. Students with mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, autism, deaf-blindness and traumatic brain injury were most likely to be served in separate class settings.

OSEP has funded a number of projects over the last decade that support inclusive school practices. Some of these projects have focused on specific research issues, while others have been demonstration projects or institutes. Several conditions identified as supporting inclusive schooling practices are: strong leadership, the commitment of all school personnel, active involvement and support from families, and ongoing support and training to general and special education teachers.

The number of teachers and other staff needed to fill funded vacancies and replace teachers who were not fully trained or certified to serve school-aged children decreased by 5.3 percent during the 1992-93 school year. However, States reported needing an additional 5,000 teacher aides. This was by far the area of greatest need for additional personnel, and may reflect the different personnel patterns that are being used.

OSEP has taken important steps toward improving data collections.In response to specific needs within States, the methods used to collect data on students exiting educational programs and the anticipated service needs of students exiting the educational system have undergone changes. In 1992, OSEP made changes with regard to the data collection on students exiting educational programs. States were given the option of using either a new, revised form or the old form.The revised form collects data on the number of students exiting the special education system rather than on the number of students exiting the educational system in general. Data on students 14 and older exiting with a diploma or certificate of completion show the graduation rate has remained steady for the past five years in each disability category.

The pilot study of the PASS system, which examined the anticipated service needs of students exiting the school system, found that the service in highest demand in a sample of States was case management.The need for alternative education and recreation and leisure services were also in high demand.Almost all exiting students had a primary need for services in at least one area.The pilot data from the PASS system are beginning to provide valuable information that can contribute to a "seamless" transition from special education to adult services.

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