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 - 1996
The Eighteenth Annual Report to Congress examines the progress being made toward implementing the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The purposes of the Act are summarized below.
- To provide assistance to States to develop early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, and to assure a free appropriate public education to all children and youth with disabilities.
- To assure that the rights of children and youth with disabilities from birth to age 21 and their families are protected.
- To assist States and localities to provide for early intervention services and the education of all children with disabilities.
- To assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to provide early intervention services and educate children with disabilities.
This report provides a detailed description of the activities undertaken to implement the Act and an assessment of the impact and effectiveness of its requirements. The following brief summaries provide highlights of the information presented in the report.
Chapter 1: School-Age Students with Disabilities Served, Exiting Patterns, and Personnel Who Provide Special Education and Related Services
National statistics and analyses generated from State-reported data submitted annually to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) are provided. A brief retrospective analysis of Federal funding patterns for special education is also included.
- The Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA) amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) by eliminating the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program and including funding for all eligible children and youth with disabilities under IDEA. The adjustment affects the way the numbers of students served are reported.
- Funds appropriated in 1995 for IDEA, Part B increased by 8 percent, from $2,149,686,000 in 1994 to $2,322,915,000 in 1995. This includes $82,878,000 in appropriations from the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program. However, the total increase was not solely attributable to the merger of these two programs. The per child allocation rose from $413 in 1994 to $418 in 1995.
- A total of 5,439,626 children and youth ages 3-21 were served under IDEA, Part B during the 1994-95 school year. This figure represents an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous year.
- Children ages 3-5 had the largest growth rate (6.7 percent) in 1994-95, followed by students ages 12-17 (3.6 percent). The number of students ages 18-21 decreased by 1.2 percent. The number of students ages 6-11 showed a moderate increase of 2.5 percent.
- The percentage of students with learning disabilities remained level for a second year in a row at 51.1 percent. Students with speech or language impairments (20.8 percent), mental retardation (11.6 percent), and serious emotional disturbance (8.7 percent) made up an additional 41.1 percent of all students with disabilities ages 6-21.
- A review of 5-year trends shows that from 1990-91 through 1994-95, the number of students served under IDEA, Part B increased by 12.7 percent. The largest increase occurred in the number of students with other health impairments. Much of the increase in this category may be related to an increased number of students diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
- During the past 5 years, the percentage of students with disabilities ages 14 and older graduating with a certificate or diploma has remained fairly stable. Of all students ages 14- 21 in special education in 1993-94, the students most likely to graduate with a diploma were those with visual impairments, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, and traumatic brain injury. Students with mental retardation and deaf-blindness were most likely to graduate with a certificate of completion or modified diploma.
- Data from the second PASS (Performance Assessment for Self-Sufficiency) field test (PASS is designed to measure services anticipated to be needed by exiting students with disabilities) was conducted in 8 States for over 2,200 students exiting the educational system. The results of the second field test were similar to the results of the first field test. The most prevalent primary need was case management (80 percent of the total sample), followed by alternative education (51 percent), and services to support postsecondary education (49 percent).
- The number of personnel needed to serve students with disabilities has grown along with the increase in the number of children with disabilities served. During the 1993-94 school year, the number of teachers employed to serve children ages 6-21 increased 6.5 percent to 331,392, and the number of teachers needed (employed-not fully certified and vacant) declined 4.4 percent to 24,697. The two largest categories of special education teachers employed were specific learning disabilities and cross-categorical, and the largest number of vacant positions were in the speech or language impairments, specific learning disabilities, and cross-categorical categories.
Chapter 2: Meeting the Needs of Preschool Children and Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
This chapter provides an update on the implementation of the Preschool Grants Program (Section 619 of Part B) and the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part H). It includes a detailed analysis of the State-reported data and OSEP-funded projects related to serving children with disabilities from birth through age 5.
- In FY 1995, Congress appropriated $360,265,000 for the Preschool Grants Program, 6.2 percent more than the $339,257,000 appropriated in FY 1994. However, the number of 3- through 5-year-olds served increased 6.7 percent from 491,685 to 524,458 in FY 1995. This figure includes more than 16,000 children who would have been served under the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program in FY 1994.
- During the 1993-94 school year, more than 22,000 FTE special education teachers were employed to serve students ages 3-5 with disabilities, almost 19 percent more than in 1992-93. Slightly over 2 percent of the funded positions were vacant, and an additional 8.5 percent of the positions were filled by teachers not fully certified. Almost 85 percent of the fully certified teachers were retained from the previous year, and more than 66 percent of the teachers not fully certified were retained from 1992-93.
- In 1993-94, 48 percent of preschoolers were served in regular classes, 31 percent in separate classes, 9 percent in separate schools, and the remaining 2.3 percent in residential facilities and home/hospital programs.
- To help promote smooth, effective transitions for children and their families, as reported in the Section 619 Profile, 25 States and Outlying Areas have developed or are developing policies that allow the use of Section 619 funds for children before their third birthday. Also, 23 States and Outlying Areas have a policy that allows Part H funds to be used past a child's third birthday. Coordination is also achieved through the Part H Interagency Coordinating Councils (ICCs). Fourteen States and Outlying Areas have ICCs that focus on the birth through age 5 populations. Additionally, many States reported their State educational agencies (SEAs) have developed interagency agreements with other agencies in an effort to reduce duplication of efforts and maximize scarce resources.
- In FY 1995, $315,632,000 was appropriated for the Part H program, including $34,000,000 to compensate for the addition of children served under the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program prior to FY 1995. This is almost a 25 percent increase over the $253,152,000 appropriated in FY 1994.
- On December 1, 1994, the number of infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services increased to a total of 165,253 (1.4 percent of the entire birth through age 2 population). This total included infants and toddlers with an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) who would have been eligible under the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program and those who received early intervention services through other programs.
- The majority of all infants and toddlers continue to receive most of their services in one of three settings: home (47 percent), early intervention classrooms (30 percent), and outpatient service facilities (16 percent). The five most commonly provided services for eligible infants and toddlers were: (1) special instruction; (2) family training, counseling, and home visits; (3) speech and language pathology; (4) physical therapy; and (5) occupational therapy.
- Among the 15 reporting categories for personnel employed and needed to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families, the three categories with the largest number of personnel were special educators, paraprofessionals, and speech and language pathologists.
- States are engaged in efforts to improve the capacity of their statewide systems to deliver early intervention services, including setting up ICCs at the local level (41 States). Also, States are exploring a variety of ways to increase the number of qualified personnel.
- Innovative projects continue to be supported by OSEP. During FY 1995, the Early Education Program for Children with Disabilities supported 125 projects: 41 demonstration projects, 47 outreach projects, 27 inservice projects, 4 research institutes, 5 statewide data systems projects, and 1 national technical assistance center.
Chapter 3: Progress in Achieving the Full Participation of Students with Disabilities in Their Schools and Communities: Federal Initiatives
This chapter highlights the progress made toward full participation by students with disabilities as a result of the implementation of the Act. It includes data from several sources that highlight the postschool results for students with disabilities, and the State-reported school placement data for students ages 6-21. A summary of findings from site visits to five States that had OSEP-sponsored statewide systems change grants is also included.
- During the 1993-94 school year, approximately 12 percent of elementary and secondary students received special education services (a 44 percent increase since the beginning of the program in 1975), and 95 percent of those students are served in regular school buildings. Overall, educational levels have risen for individuals with disabilities, and the percentage of college freshmen reporting disabilities has tripled from 2.6 percent in 1978 to 8.8 percent in 1991. Also, in the years since the implementation of IDEA, employment rates for individuals with disabilities have improved.
- Time in regular education and vocational classes for secondary education students was associated with positive school results, according to results from the National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education students (NLTS). For example, secondary education students who succeeded in regular education had higher employment, independent living, and community participation rates.
- Quality education and proper supports are essential components of successful school experiences. Also, there is no single special education policy that benefits all students. A range of options, tailored to meet the individual needs of all students, continues to be the most effective approach.
- Data for students with disabilities ages 6-21 show that during the past several years, the percentage of students with disabilities served in regular classes has increased, while the percentage of students in resource rooms has decreased. Other placement percentages have remained stable.
- States report a tendency to serve a larger percentage of students with disabilities ages 6-11 in regular classrooms; that percentage decreases for students ages 12-17 and 18-21. This pattern holds across all disability groups except specific learning disabilities. The percentage of 18- through 21-year-olds with learning disabilities in regular classes was larger than the percentage of 12- through 17-year-olds in regular classes.
- Placement patterns vary by disability. The majority of students with speech and language impairments are served in regular classes. Students with learning disabilities, orthopedic impairments, serious emotional disturbance, and traumatic brain injury are generally placed in regular school buildings, but are then spread across regular classes, resource rooms, and separate classes. Separate classroom placements are most prevalent for students with mental retardation, autism, and multiple disabilities. However, resource room placements are also commonly used to serve students with mental retardation and multiple disabilities.
- Between 1987 and 1990, 16 States received 5-year statewide systems change grants to increase the physical, social, and academic integration of students with severe disabilities; increase the capacity of State and local education agencies to provide effective services to students with severe disabilities; empower parents; and promote collaboration among parents, students, and service providers.
- Site visits in five States that were awarded statewide systems change grants--Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington--were conducted. Contextual factors such as stake-holder support, relationships among key individuals, the presence of necessary preconditions for change, and local culture affected the extent and type of change achieved.
- The level of SEA support for change was a critical factor in understanding statewide systems change. Some of the indicators of State support for inclusive programming included: a strong association between the systems change project and the SEA; proactive statewide policies; the presence of State-level reform efforts that are compatible with systems change; State efforts to close separate schools and/or regional centers and transition students back to their home schools; and the availability of State funds to supplement the Federal systems change grant.
- The States visited conducted relatively similar project activities. However, different States chose to emphasize different avenues to systems change. States developed or adapted frameworks for best practices, provided technical assistance to selected schools or school districts to facilitate inclusive programming, promoted awareness of systems change efforts through inservice training and other dissemination strategies, and reformed preservice training.
- The nature of systems change also varied by State. Colorado and Vermont were particularly successful in changing State policy to promote inclusion of students with disabilities. Pennsylvania changed the role of its intermediate units from providing direct services to providing technical support and moving students from regional programs to local ones. Washington and Pennsylvania were particularly successful in leveraging State funds to expand technical assistance. Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Michigan reported moving sizable numbers of students to more inclusive settings during the grant period, and Vermont reduced its special education child count through enhanced general education services. All five States enhanced statewide awareness of inclusion.
- Challenging issues for most or all States included: spreading change from the target site to other locations; institutionalizing change at the secondary level; meeting the needs of students with emotional impairments in inclusive settings; and defining appropriate roles for paraprofessionals.
Chapter 4: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in the Inner Cities
This chapter explores the unique challenges of special education programs in inner cities. The chapter synthesizes information from a variety of sources to provide a profile of special education in the nation's inner cities.
- Inner-city and non-inner-city areas appear to have similar percent-ages of students in special education--10.4 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. Little variation exists between the two types of areas by disability.
- Thirty percent of all inner-city students live in poverty, compared to 18 percent of students living outside inner cities. Data from the NLTS on secondary education students indicate that families of students with disabilities in urban areas are more likely to live in poverty than families of students with disabilities in suburban or rural areas.
- Inner-city districts enroll a greater percentage of limited English proficient students than non-inner-city districts, and data suggests that 5 percent of special education students in inner-city districts have limited English proficiency, compared to 1 percent in non-inner-city districts.
- Public schools in inner cities enroll almost twice as many African American and Hispanic students as do non-inner-city schools. The percentage of African American students enrolled in special education is generally high relative to their representation in the general student population. In some individual States and in some disability categories, Hispanics are over and underrepresented relative to their proportion of the total population. In general, Asian American students are represented in special education at a lower rate proportional to the general population.
- Although a large number of African American and Hispanic students attend inner-city schools and are reportedly over-represented in special education, two types of areas apparently enroll virtually the same percentage of students in special education. According to an analysis of NLTS data, the disproportionate representation of African Americans in special education is a function of relatively low income and the disabilities associated with poverty. When income is accounted for, disproportionate representation remains in the categories of speech or language impairments, visual impairments, and mental retardation.
- IDEA and its implementing regulations require that the special education assessment process be conducted in a nondiscriminatory manner. However, in inner-city schools and school districts, identification and assessment of students for special education is complicated by the effects of poverty, race/ethnicity, and limited English proficiency. A central concern over the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education is the role of intelligence tests in identifying students with disabilities.
- Current research suggests that for limited English proficient students, it is very difficult to distinguish between the effect of a disability on the student's achievement and the student's failure to understand the majority language and culture. This difficulty is a serious impediment to accurately assessing the student's disability.
- Data from the Office of Civil Rights suggest that students with disabilities living in inner cities are more likely to be placed in restrictive environments. NLTS data confirm that urban secondary students with disabilities spend less time in regular education classrooms than students living in nonurban areas.
- NLTS data indicate that secondary students with disabilities in urban areas spend a slightly higher percentage of their class time in academic subjects than students with disabilities in rural or suburban schools.
- Special education teachers are in particularly short supply in inner-city areas. Also, schools have failed to attract a sufficiently diverse work force, and over the past 20 years the proportion of African American college graduates entering teaching has declined to a lower level than that of whites.
- Two national datasets on parental reports of disability among their children provide inconsistent results. In the Current Population Survey data, which includes families of children ages 5-17, white families reported that their children had a disability at a higher rate (5.6 percent) than African American families (4.6 percent) or Hispanic families (2.7 percent). In the National Household Education Survey data, which includes families of children age 3 through grade 2, white and African American parents reported prevalence rates of 12.4 and 12.1 percent respectively, while Hispanics reported a prevalence rate of 14.4 percent. In both sets of data, reports of disability diminish as income increases, and rates by race/ethnicity become more similar in the higher income ranges.
- According to NLTS data, youth in urban areas were less likely than their peers in suburban and rural areas to graduate from high school and were more likely to drop out of school. Suburban youth with disabilities who were out of secondary school two years or more reported taking any postsecondary courses in the past year at a slightly higher rate (17 percent) than urban youth with disabilities (14 percent) or rural youth with disabilities (12 percent).
- Employed youth with disabilities in urban areas earned slightly more than youth in suburban or rural areas. A sizeable proportion of youth in urban, suburban, and rural areas were employed in manual labor and restaurant work.
Chapter 5: Assisting States and Localities in Educating All Children with Disabilities
This chapter describes the efforts OSEP undertakes to assist State and local educational agencies in educating all children and youth with disabilities, and the refinements OSEP has made to its monitoring systems.
- OSEP works in partnership with States, institutions of higher education, students with disabilities and their families, advocacy groups, and others to ensure positive educational results for children. OSEP also recognizes the critical importance of its monitoring responsibility and activities to ensure compliance with Congress' mandates.
- OSEP has determined that the requirements with the strongest links to results and general supervision include: (1) access to the full range of programs and services, with proper supports as determined through an Individualized Educational Program (IEP), available to nondisabled children; (2) statements of needed transition services for students with disabilities no later than age 16; and (3) education in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
- During the past 3 years, OSEP has worked intensively to reorient and strengthen its monitoring system so that it will--in conjunction with research, innovation, and technical assistance efforts--support systematic reform that produces better results for students with disabilities and ensures compliance.
- OSEP uses research, dissemination, demonstration, systems change, and other technical assistance strategies to provide State and local educational agencies with tools to assist them in improving teaching and learning.
- To ensure a strong accountability system, OSEP has placed emphasis on customer input in the monitoring process, the requirements that relate most directly to continuous improvement in learner results, prompt identification and correction of deficiencies, and corrective action requirements and strategies that yield improved access and results for students with disabilities.
- During the 1994-95 school year, OSEP conducted comprehensive monitoring visits to 14 States, Puerto Rico, and the Pre-College Programs of Gallaudet University. OSEP is conducting comprehensive monitoring visits to 11 States during the 1995-96 school year.
- During FY 1995, OSEP issued 21 final monitoring reports that concentrated in the areas of student access to instruction and vocational preparation, procedural safeguards for children with disabilities and their parents, and the SEA's exercise of its general supervision responsibility.
[List of Abbreviations and Acronyms]