Differences in how states identify and evaluate students with disabilities may lead to big state differences in the percentage of children served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, finds a new report by the federal Government Accountability Office.
About 13 percent of students received special education under IDEA in 2015-16, the GAO found. That represents nearly 7 million children ages 3-21. Only 3 percent of children ages 2 and younger received services.
GAO staff looked at national data as well as state laws, and they interviewed officials from 15 districts in Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, and New York. It found broad differences in how states define learning disabilities, and take into account separate issues such as English-language-learner status.
A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2019 edition of Education Week as Special Education