Friday, August 7, 2009

New Report: Learning Disabilities in the U.S.


Rachel Norton, a member of the San Francisco Board of Education, provides a nice summary of a new report on the state of learning disabilities in the United States. Compiled by the National Council on Learning Disabilities, the comprehensive report reviews both positive and negative trends in meeting the needs of about 2.7 million public school students who have learning disabilities. View the 32-page report.

Some key facts:
- Those 2.7 million students represent 6 percent of public school students nationwide. Two-thirds are males.
- The number of students identified with learning disabilities increased during the 1980s and 1990s, but dropped by 7 percent between 1998 and 2007. Why? Possibly because of stricter standards for identifying learning disabilities and better education strategies.
- The cost of educating a student with learning disabilities is 60 percent higher than the expense for a general education student, compared with 90 percent higher for all students with disabilites.
- Not surprisingly, students who have learning disabilities are far more likely to be held back in school or have disciplinary problems.
- Just one in three students with a learning disability enroll in postsecondary education programs.
- As with all specialized teachers, there just aren't enough qualified teachers or adequate training to meet the needs of children with learning disabilities. The U.S. Department of Education reports that at least 11 percent of special education teachers are not "highly qualified" as defined by IDEA.
- In another study, fewer than half of principals said their general education teachers were prepared to improve the performance of their students with individualized education plans (IEPs).

By the way, the National Council for Learning Disabilities has an excellent website that I had never seen before. Very clean, attractive, and full of resources that are easy to find.
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