Saturday, May 30, 2009

Older special education students

In the fall of 2007, close to 4,000 Kentucky young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 received educational services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. They made up just under 1 percent of our population aged 18 to 24, and just over 5 percent of residents that age who had not completed high school.

Below, you can see the number of young adults still in school with each type of disability reported in the IDEA child count data. The third column shows Kentucky number as a percent of the national number, worth comparing to Kentucky having an estimated 1.2 percent of the nation's overall population aged 18 to 24.

I know very little about these students, and would especially value comments from readers who know more. What are the best things happening educationally, and what are the toughest challenges they face? What more do we need to be doing?


  1. I have to say I'm surprised by the number of students with Specific Learning Disabilities who are still there after age 18. And since most Other Health Impaired students have that designation because they have ADHD, that is a high number too. I'm guessing that this exists because these students were held back a year or two? So couple this infomation with your earlier data about low graduation rates of retained students and low graduation rates of students with IEPs, are we starting to connect the dots a bit?
    In my experience, students with IEPs for SLD or ADHD should never be retained. These kids are smart, they are not cognitively impaired. I would venture to guess that they have parents who don't really understand IDEA and how to measure what their children are supposed to know, and/or they aren't getting identified early enough, and/or they aren't getting the specifically designed instruction required, and/or they aren't being taught how to use assistive technology (like Read/Write Gold) to keep up with their peers.
    Just some quick thoughts for now.....
    Cindy Baumert

  2. Cindy,

    If it was 2,000, I could imagine them all being 18 or 19 with stories that we already know.

    Imagine 1,000 who won't finish, but by their own will or their families determination or a teacher's commitment don't quit until they're voting age.

    Add 200 who will get certificates for having stuck with school in spite of huge challenges.

    And then 800 who will get diplomas: 200 who started kindergarten late, 400 who repeated an elementary grade, and 200 who spend an extra year in high school.

    That leaves us puzzling about 1,800 students. Could there be 450 students a year with severe disabilities who are placed in other settings almost from the beginning, and who get IDEA services right up to age 21?


Updates and data on Kentucky education!