Special Education

Early Intervention Helps Spec. Ed. Students, Report Says

By Lisa Goldstein — September 24, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Children with disabilities who receive early-intervention services show “significant” developmental improvement after only one year, according to the Department of Education’s 24th annual report to Congress on the progress of special education.

Just a year after receiving such services, many infants and toddlers reached milestones in motor skills, self-help, communication, and cognition, the Sept. 10 report says. The children’s families also reported feeling better able to help their children learn and cope.

See Also...

See the accompanying chart, “How Special Education Students Fared.”

“This is yet another confirmation that the earlier we identify children with disabilities and provide highly effective evidence-based interventions, the better chance they have of reaching their full potential,” Robert H. Pasternack, the department’s assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, said in a statement

The 750-page report, “To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of All Children with Disabilities,” uses data from several sources, including the National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study, a department-led research effort that tracks 3,338 infants and toddlers with disabilities who received early-intervention services.

The report, “Twenty- Fourth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” is available from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs. (Sections require Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

The report comes as Congress is working on the reauthorization of the landmark 1975 law, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, that guarantees students with disabilities the right to a free, appropriate public education.

Part of the law grants services to children from birth to age 2. Such assistance, currently offered to more than 268,000 children, may include speech and hearing services, family training, counseling, home visits, diagnostic medical services, occupational or physical therapy, and social and psychological services.

More Graduating

Meanwhile, the report shows that the dropout rate for students with disabilities has continued to decline in recent years. For students in special education who are age 14 or older, the dropout rate fell from 34.1 percent in the 1995-96 school year to 29.4 percent in 1999- 2000.

But the dropout rate varied tremendously, depending on the category of disability.

In the 1999-2000 school year, 51.4 percent of students with emotional disturbances age 14 or older dropped out of school, the highest rate of all special education categories that year. Still, that year’s figure continued a steady rate of improvement for students with emotional disturbances. In the 1995-96 school year, 57.1 percent of such students dropped out of school, according to the report.

Meanwhile, 27.6 percent of students with specific learning disabilities who were age 14 or older dropped out in the 1999-2000 school year, down from 32.4 percent of such students in 1995-96.

The report says that the overall graduation rate for students with disabilities was 56.2 percent in 1999-2000, down slightly from 1998-99 because of underreported rates for that year. But it maintained steady improvement over the 1995-96 school year, when the graduation rate was 52.6 percent.

The graduation rate varied significantly from disability to disability, ranging from a low of 39.5 percent for students with mental retardation to a high of 73.4 percent for students with visual impairments.

Graduation and dropout rates also varied by race. The graduation rate was highest for white students, at 62.5 percent, followed by Asian-Pacific Islander students at 56.3 percent, and Hispanic students at 51.8 percent. Black students had the lowest graduation rate, 39.7 percent.

The dropout rate was 19.3 percent for Asian- Pacific Islander students and 26.5 percent for white students. The dropout rate for American Indian-Alaska Native students was the highest, at 44 percent. For black and Hispanic students, it was 37.0 percent and 33.1 percent, respectively.

According to the report, progress has continued to be made in the area of the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, an issue that previous annual reports have highlighted. For the 1999-2000 school year, 47.3 percent of students with disabilities who were enrolled in regular schools were served outside the regular classroom for less than 21 percent of the school day. Between 1990-91 and 1999-2000, the number of students served outside the regular classroom for less than 21 percent of the day increased by 87.1 percent.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Opinion Inclusive Teachers Must Be 'Asset-Based Believers'
Four veteran educators share tips on supporting students with learning differences as they return to classrooms during this pandemic year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Special Education Opinion 20 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences This Year
Embed student voices and perspectives into the classroom is one piece of advice educators offer in this third pandemic-affected school year.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Special Education Schools Must Identify Students With Disabilities Despite Pandemic Hurdles, Ed. Dept. Says
Guidance stresses schools' responsibilities to those with disabilities, while noting that federal COVID aid can be used to address backlogs.
2 min read
School children in classroom with teacher, wearing face masks and raised hands
Special Education Attention Deficit Rates Skyrocket in High School. Mentoring Could Prevent an Academic Freefall
Twice as many students are diagnosed with ADHD in high school as in elementary school, yet their supports are fewer, a study says.
4 min read
Image of a child writing the letters "ADHD" on a chalkboard.