What Makes Special Education Special?
Special education features instruction and interventions designed to meet the individual needs of each child with a disability. Through special education, the United States has developed instructional curricula and programs for teaching core competencies to children with disabilities. Key examples are early reading (e.g., progress monitoring), behavior (e.g., multitiered, schoolwide interventions), assessment (e.g., accommodations, including students with disabilities in accountability systems), early childhood education (e.g., Individualized Family Service Plans), and universally designed instruction (e.g., captioning). Additionally, special education has developed a variety of rigorous evaluation methods (e.g., single-subject designs and qualitative ethnographic techniques) that can be used to carefully examine the impact of instruction on individual children with disabilities as well as all students in the school. Finally, IDEA has invested in a research to practice model that has helped the country support improvements in special and general education. This infrastructure, in turn, has contributed to improved results for children with disabilities and their families over the last quarter of the 20th century and through the first decade of the 21st century.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Thirty-five Years of Progress in Educating Children With Disabilities Through IDEA, Washington, D.C., 2010.
Who Are Special Education Children?
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004 (20 U.S.C. 1401) a child child with a disability is one who has been who has been evaluated and found to have one of the disabilities recognized by IDEA and, who by reason thereof requires specially designed instruction and services to meet their unique needs in order to make educational progress. So, interestingly, a child with a disability is not automatically eligible for special education services. If he or she is steadily advancing from grade to grade and demonstrating typical growth in learning and skills, special education is not necessary.
How Many Special Education Children?
|Specific learning disabilities||2,500,623||37.8%|
|Speech or language impairments||1,449,919||21.9%|
|Other health impairments||698,521||10.6%|
|Intellectual Disability (MR)||473,566||7.2%|
|Autism Spectrum Disorders||380,438||5.8%|
|Traumatic brain injury||25,443||0.4%|
Total in SpEd (ages 3-21)
Source: US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Data Analysis System (DANS) data updated July, 2010