The number of kids receiving special education in public schools is rising

By Grace Carr

The number of students in public schools receiving special education to address their learning disabilities has risen in recent years, a report shows.

The Department of Education’s (DOE) May 2018 report, “Condition of Education” indicates that 6.7 million children between the ages of three and 21 receive special education services as of 2016. The increase marks a rise in special education services by 100,000 from the previous year. The report, published May 23 online, does not state whether children are developing disabilities at a greater rate, special education services are being provided more liberally or there is some other unknown reason.

Among the 6.7 million special ed students, roughly 35 percent faced specific learning disabilities while 20 percent had some form of language impairment. Fourteen percent of those students had some other kind of disability that was not identified.

Only 6.3 million students received specialized education in 2000.

The researchers gathered their data by identifying the number of students served by the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” which mandates that students with disabilities be given the services they need.

“Thirteen percent is close to what we’ve seen in previous years,” lead author of the report Joel McFarland told U.S. News, noting that while the increase is notable, a 13 percent increase does not represent a massive increase. “We looked at 2000 to 2015, and the proportion of students receiving special education fluctuated during that time, but it hasn’t changed dramatically,” McFarland said.

The report also notes that between 2015 and 2016, far more males aged six to 21 need special education services compared to females.

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Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Education

2 thoughts on “The number of kids receiving special education in public schools is rising

  1. What are the standards for labeling a student disabled and who is overseeing that process? It is a known fact that schools receive more federal money if they have more students identified as disabled.
    What does that label do to the child’s view of him or herself if the label is inappropriate?

  2. Many children aggressively labeled as disabled are not disabled at all, they need only a different setting, staff and methods. The big public education monopoly is happy to label these kids (federal $$$) once these children are labeled, they are stuck in a system that sometimes causes the problem in the first place.

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