School & District Management

Census Finds That About 1 in 20 School Children Have a Disability

By Nirvi Shah — November 22, 2011 1 min read
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New data from the U.S. Census show that as of 2010, about 5 percent of all school children have a disability.

The American Community Survey finds that of the nation’s 53.9 million schoolchildren ages 5 to 17, about 2.8 million were reported to have a disability in 2010. (This data excludes children in institutions such as juvenile correctional facilities, group homes for juveniles, and residential schools for people with disabilities.)

This is the first time government officials have analyzed results it has collected for years through the American Community Survey, Census statistician Matthew Brault told Disability Scoop.

(The numbers are significantly different than those calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics, which looks at a broader age range and finds that among students age 3 to 21, about 13 percent have disabilities.)

About 5 percent of children in metro areas across the country have a disability compared with 6.3 percent of children living outside metro areas. Regardless of where they live, children were more likely to have a cognitive difficulties than other disability types. Those with cognitive difficulties, as defined by the Census, have serious trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

Across states, the percentage of metro area children with disabilities who were enrolled in public school ranged from 76.5 percent to nearly 100 percent.

Among the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, the Columbus, Ohio, area had one of the highest child disability rates at 7.2 percent. The rate for the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. metro area was among the lowest child disability rates at 2.8 percent.

In all 50 metro areas, cognitive difficulty was the dominant type of disability. More than half of children with disabilities reported this type of difficulty in every part of the country.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.


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