Most students labeled disabled are not severely handicapped and are capable of performing at grade level, writes Erin Dillon of Education Sector.
The LD (learning disabled) diagnosis is intended to provide students with the supports they need to reach grade-level standards. Similarly, students with disabilities that fall into the categories of “emotional disturbance,” “speech or language impairments,” and “other health impairments” (which includes attention deficit disorder or ADD) can be expected to overcome or compensate for the disability with appropriate services. Over 80 percent of students enrolled in special education fall into these four categories.
Only 9 percent of special education students are mentally retarded.
In 1977, 8 percent of U.S. students were considered disabled; that’s soared to nearly 14 percent. All these students may need extra help to succeed but are they really disabled?
Currently, about 30 percent of special education students can be tested with alternate assessments or held to lower standards under No Child Left Behind, Dillon writes. She sees no need to exempt more students from NCLB’s accountability standards.