The State of Learning Disabilities: Facts, Trends and Indicators
This comprehensive look at learning disabilities (LD), neurologically based disorders that include diagnoses like dyslexia, exposes two truths. First, confusion about and misidentification of LD—a problem we described over a decade ago—persists, though improved instruction and intervention have helped curb the number of identifications over the last ten years (also illustrated in a more recent Fordham study). Second, there’s still a dearth of up-to-date research on how to support students with bona fide LD and improve their educational outcomes. The paper reports some familiar facts—boys are more likely to be identified as having LD, as are minority students, and those in poverty or unemployed (the study also collected data on the adult LD population). Further, students with LD are, on average, 3.4 years behind their grade level in reading and 3.2 years behind in math. The biennial report also furnishes many less-familiar stats. Notably, while the percentage of students with LD receiving a high school diploma increased from 52 to 64 percent from 2000 to 2009 (and dropouts fell from 40 to 22 percent), only 10 percent of all students with LD enroll in a four-year college. In addition, students with LD rarely use technologies to help moderate their disabilities: Just 6 percent learn with computers more frequently than their classmates and a mere 1 percent use software designed for students like themselves. Better and more targeted hardware and software may hold one key to further improving graduation and college-going rates—and doing so in a cost-effective manner.
Candace Cortiella, The State of Learning Disabilities: Facts, Trends and Indicators (New York, NY: National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2011).
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