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

Analysis of available data results in a complex picture of students with disabilities in inner cities. The interrelationships among urbanicity, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status and their impact on placement in special education are difficult to untangle.

Several findings from the data analyses are clear, however. Students in inner cities are identified as eligible for special education at approximately the same rate as non-inner-city students. A larger percentage of families living in the inner cities live in poverty, and this pattern applies to families of students with disabilities as well. Furthermore, public schools in the inner cities enroll large percentages of students from racial and ethnic minority groups. Less clear are the relative influences of poverty and race/ethnicity on the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic minorities in special education. Disability rates reported by parents differ by income and race, and also differ from disability rates reported by schools and school districts. Why this occurs is not clear.

Data on special education services for secondary students with disabilities in inner cities and other areas indicate similar course-taking and service patterns, with some exceptions. Fewer secondary students with disabilities in inner cities are enrolled in vocational education classes compared to students in rural and suburban areas. Data also suggest that students with disabilities in inner cities are more likely than students in non-inner-city districts to be placed in more restrictive learning environments.

Data from the NLTS suggest that urban youth with disabilities have a particularly difficult time adjusting to postsecondary roles. High dropout rates, low levels of enrollment in postsecondary education, and high rates of unemployment are indicative of the problems experienced by many of these youth.

In response to perceived needs, OSEP recently established a priority to train scholars in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority institutions (OMIs) to conduct research in special education and urban issues. This will help focus attention on a much-needed area of study. OSEP also uses its compliance monitoring to ensure that all students with disabilities, including those in inner cities, are receiving a free appropriate public education as guaranteed under IDEA. OSEP is committed to working with States and local education agencies continuously to improve programs and meet the changing needs of inner-city students.


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[Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities in Urban Areas] [Table of Contents] [Chapter 5]