Number of "learning-disabled" students in decline
| Sep 10, 2010
After decades of what seemed to be an inexorable upward path, the number of students classified as learning-disabled declined from year to year over much of the past decade—a change in direction that is spurring debates among experts about the reasons why. The percentage of 3- to 21-year-old students nationwide classified as having a “specific learning disability” dropped steadily from 6.1% in the 2000-01 school year to 5.2% in 2007-08, according to the most recent data available, which comes from the U.S Department of Education’s 2009 Digest of Education Statistics.
The decrease in the category goes hand in hand with a decrease in special education enrollment overall, though that change is not as large.
Some scholars say the dropping numbers could be linked to improvements in reading instruction overall; the adoption of “response to intervention,” which is an instructional model intended to halt the emergence of reading problems; and a federally backed push toward early intervention with younger students. All those efforts could be serving to separate students with true disabilities from those who just haven’t been taught well in the early grades. Read more of this article in Education Week online.