Selected SLC Research
Policy Analysis | September 1, 2009
What is the size of the school-aged population served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? How has the size of this population changed?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that school districts that accept federal funding for under the Act to provide appropriate services to children with identified disabilities. Initially passed as the Education for the Handicapped Act in 1975, the legislation has grown in scope and purpose through reauthorizations, including the most recent in 2004. IDEA mandates that students with disabilities be provided with a "free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." (20 U.S.C. § 1400 (d)(1)(a))
Over the past decade, most states have seen considerable growth in the size of the population served by IDEA, both in absolute terms and as a share of the total population. The policy and budgetary implications for this trend are considerable. Because students with disabilities are more costly to serve, school budgets are straining to meet the demands of this population at a time when expenditures on education overall are rising faster than inflation. Furthermore, the rapid rise in this population among schoolchildren complicates planning and policy development processes for schools and states. The table below illustrates the change in this population between 2001 and 2006.
Students Served by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the Southern States
|3- to 21-year-olds served|
|State||2000-01||2006-07||As a percent of public school enrollment, 2006-07||Percent change in number served, 2000-01 to 2006-07|
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Digest of Education Statistics: 2008