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

Summary and Implications

IDEA continues to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free appropriate public education. In an effort to ensure implementation of IDEA, OSEP continues to work closely with States through monitoring and technical assistance activities. The intent of these activities is to improve compliance and maximize results for students with disabilities. In particular, OSEP focuses its compliance efforts on those requirements that effect students with disabilities and their families.

Each year since 1977, the total amount appropriated to the IDEA, Part B State Grants Program has increased. 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. Although the FY 1995 appropriations included $82,878,000 from the elimination of the Chapter 1 Handicapped Program, the total increase was not solely attributable to the merger of these two programs. The per child allocation rose from $413 in FY 1994 to $418 in FY 1995.

The total number of children and youth with disabilities served also continues to increase. During the 1994-95 school year, a total of 5,439,626 children and youth with disabilities ages 3-21 were served, an increase of 167,779 or 3.2 percent. Students ages 6-21 comprised about 90 percent of the special education population, but accounted for only 80 percent of the increase in the total number served. Furthermore, children ages 3-5 had the largest growth rate (6.7 percent), followed by students ages 12-17 (3.6 percent) and students ages 6-11 (2.5 percent). The number of students ages 18-21 decreased by 1.2 percent.

Overall, there is relatively little change from the 1993-94 school year to the 1994-95 school year in the percentage of students served with each disability category ages 6-21. During 1994-95, the percentage of all students served with specific learning disabilities continued to be slightly above 50 percent. The percentages of all students served with mental retardation and serious emotional disturbance also remained the same as during the 1993-94 school year. The percentage of students with speech or language impairments served dropped slightly in 1994-95. However, during the last 5 years, from 1990-91 to 1994-95, the number of students with disabilities served increased by 12.7 percent (553,417). The number of students with other health impairments, orthopedic impairments, and specific learning disabilities rose at proportionately higher rates than the number of students in other disability categories. The number of students in the two new categories, autism and traumatic brain injury, which were established during this 5-year period, have also increased rapidly. The number of students with deaf-blindness has decreased steadily since 1990-91.

The data on students ages 14 and older show that the vast majority stay in school. During the 1993-94 school year, 73 percent of students with disabilities 14 and older continued to receive special education services. The other 27 percent of students with disabilities 14 and older were in the following categories: 7 percent graduated with a diploma; 5 percent moved and continued school; 3 percent moved and it is not known if they continued school; 5 percent dropped out; 4 percent returned to regular education; 2 percent graduated with a certificate; 0.3 percent reached maximum age; and 0.1 percent died. Students with serious emotional disturbance moved and dropped out at higher rates than students in any other disability category. During the past 5 years, the percentage of all students with disabilities ages 14 and older graduating with a diploma or certificate has remained fairly stable.

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 special education 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. The largest numbers of vacant positions were in the categories of speech or language impairments, specific learning disabilities, and cross-categorical. In 1993-94, the number of personnel other than special education teachers employed increased by 3 percent to 331,356. Teacher aides were the largest category of these personnel.

References

Carlson, E., & Parshall, L. (in press).
Academic, social, and behavioral adjustment for students declassified from special education. Exceptional Children.

Carlson, E., & Parshall, L. (1995).
Proceedings: Ninth Annual Conference on the Management of Federal/State data systems. Rockville, MD: Westat, Inc.

Keogh, B. (1990).
Narrowing the gap between policy and practice. Exceptional Children, 57, 186-190.

Office of Special Education Programs. (1995).
OSEP memorandum number 95-12. Washington, DC: Author.

Reschly, D. (1988).
Minority representation and special education reform. Exceptional Children, 54, 316-323.

Reynolds, M.C., Wang, M.C., & Walberg, H.J. (1987).
The necessary restructuring of special and regular education. Exceptional Children, 53, 391-398.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1995).
Educational Attainment in the United States: March 1993 and 1992. Washington, DC: Department of Commerce.

U.S. General Accounting Office. (1994).
Report on student mobility to the Honorable Marcy Kaptur of the House of Representatives. Washington, DC: Author.

Wagner, M., Newman, L., D'Amici, R., Jay, E. D., Butler-Nalin, P., Mendin, C., & Cox, L. (1991).
Youth with disabilities: How are they doing? Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

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