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

When considering the challenges of serving rural students with disabilities, it is important to remember the diversity that exists within rural America. Rural areas may differ in terrain, climate, population density, language, economic base, and culture. These differences must be considered when addressing the needs of students with disabilities in rural settings.

Approximately 475,000 students with disabilities reside in rural school districts. Rural and non-rural districts serve similar percentages of students with disabilities, and the distribution of students across disability groups is also similar. However, data suggest that rural districts serve a larger proportion of students living in poverty, which may affect educational performance.

Factors such as availability of appropriate assessment instruments, placement in the least restrictive environment, availability of appropriate personnel, and maintaining active parental involvement can present challenges to staff in rural areas. However, data suggest that a smaller percentage of students with disabilities in rural districts are placed in full-time special education classes compared to non-rural districts.

Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study provide a great deal of information on services for secondary students with disabilities in rural, suburban, and urban schools. The data indicate that secondary students with disabilities spend over half the day studying academic subjects, such as language arts, mathematics, and science. In addition, 62 percent of secondary students with disabilities in rural schools took some type of vocational education in their most recent year of schooling. Despite the fact that a wide range of vocational education services are available in schools that students with disabilities attend, the percentage of students enrolling in such courses is fairly low. For those who did participate in vocational education, services averaged 150 hours per year.

In future special education studies, researchers should make every effort to collect data that can be analyzed for similarities and differences between rural and non-rural districts, as was done with the NLTS. In this way, researchers will ensure that the unique needs of rural schools and school districts are not neglected as service providers, administrators, and policy makers develop and implement programs for students with disabilities.

References

Anshutz, J. (1988).
Contributors to Rural Teacher Turnover. Presentation at the Rural and Small Schools Conference, Manhattan, KS.

Bender, L. et al. (1985).
The Diverse Social and Economic Structure of Nonmetropolitan America. Washington, DC: Economic Research Services.

Capper, C. (1993).
Rural community influences on effective school practices. Journal of Educational Administration.

Capper, C. (1990).
Exploring the Influence of Community Socioeconomic Class, Location, and Culture on Effective School Linkages for Preschool Students with Disabilities. Madison, WI: Department of Educational Administration, Wisconsin University.

Capper, C. and Larkin, J. (1992).
The regular education initiative: Educational reorganization for rural school districts. Journal of School Leadership, 2, 232-245.

Elder, W. (1992).
The Use of Census Geography and County Typologies in the Construction of Classification Systems for Rural Schools and Rural School Districts. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

Freitas, D. (1992).
Managing Smallness: Promising Fiscal Practices for Rural School District Administrators. Charleston, WV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, Appalachia Educational Laboratory.

Helge, D. (1991).
Rural, Exceptional, At Risk. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

Hicks, J. (1994).
Special education in rural areas:Validation of critical issues by selected State directors of special education. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Directors of Special Education.

Hilton, L. (1991).
Cultural Bias and Ecological Validity in Testing Rural Children. Rural Education, 12, 16-20.

Hobbs, D. (1988).
Relationships between school and school district size, educational costs and student performance - A review of the literature. Unpublished manuscript.

Huebner, E. S. et al. (1986).
Barriers to Effective Assessment in Rural Areas. Rural Educator, 7(2), 24-26.

McIntosh, D. (1986).
Problems and solutions in delivery of special education services in rural areas. Rural Educator, 8(1), 12-15.

National Center for Education Statistics. (1993a).
Digest of Education Statistics: Guide to Sources. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

National Center for Education Statistics. (1993b).
1990-91 Schools and Staffing Survey: Sample Design and Estimation. Technical Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education. (1990).
Maine's support network for rural special educators: Success through communication. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

Pierce, C. and Beebe, V. (1988).
Southlake special services transition program for handicapped youth: Comprehensive summary. A paper presented at the Eighth Annual ACRES National Rural Special Education Conference, Monterey, CA.

Reid, B. and Bross, M. (1993).
Project TRAIN: Training rural area interventionists to meet needs. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 12(1), 3-8.

Russell, S. et al. (1992).
Rural America institute for special educators: A collaborative preservice teacher training program for rural special education. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, November 11-14, 1992, Cincinnati, OH.

Scott, R. (1984, September).
Teaching and Learning in Remote Schools: A Dilemma Beyond Rural Education. Information from the National Information Center for Handicapped Children and Youth. Washington, DC.

Sherman, A. (1992).
Falling by the Wayside: Children in Rural America. Washington, DC: Children's Defense Fund.

Thompson, M. (1994).
Management of young hearing-impaired children and their families. In J. Roush and N. Matkin (Eds. ), Infants and Toddlers with Hearing Loss: Family Centered Assessment and Intervention. Parkton, MD: York Press.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. (1992).
1990 Census of Population and Housing: Summary Population and Housing Characteristics, Appendix A--Area Classifications. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. (1993).
Appendix F. Special Populations: Limited English Proficient Students with Disabilities, in The Fifteenth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: Author.

Valdes, K., Williamson, C., & Wagner, M. (1990)
The National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education Students: Statistical Almanac, Volume 1, Overview. SRI International: Palo Alto, CA.

Young, M. et al. (1986).
Instructing Children With Limited English Ability. Arlington, VA: Development Associates.

-###-
[Services for Students with Disabilites in Rural Schools] [Table of Contents]