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The State of Learning Disabilities

“Stigma, underachievement and misunderstanding of LD continue to be stubborn barriers for parents and children to overcome. The data in this 2014 report reveal that, left unaddressed, as many as 60 million individuals risk being left behind, burdened by low self-esteem, subjected to low expectations, and diminished in their ability to pursue their dreams.”

– James H. Wendorf, NCLD Executive Director



The updated and expanded third edition of NCLD’s The State of Learning Disabilities report captures data about the 5 percent of our nation’s school-age population whose learning disabilities (LD) have been formally identified, and provides a critical lens through which to understand and address the needs of the additional 15 percent or more of students with unidentified and unaddressed learning and attention issues.

This report is an essential resource for anyone who is concerned about the one in five children, adolescents and adults who are impacted by learning and attention issues, whether in school, at home and or in the workplace.

The 2014 The State of Learning Disabilities report is more than a collection of facts. It tells a story about the realities of LD in society today. New to this third edition are sections about public perceptions of learning and attention issues as well as discussion of the impact of LD on post-secondary education and employment. Also included is a section that identifies emerging issues for which reliable data are urgently needed.

See below for a sampling of highlights from each of the report's sections and read The State of Learning Disabilities for more.

About LD

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  • LD is the largest category of students receiving special education services (42 percent of the 5.7 million school-age children with all kinds of disabilities).
  • There are 2.4 million American public school students (approximately 5 percent of the total public school enrollment) identified with LD under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of students identified with LD are male, while overall public school enrollment is evenly split between males and females.

Public Perceptions of LD

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  • Up to one-third of people attribute LD to causes that are inaccurate, including excessive time watching TV (22 percent), poor diet (31 percent) and childhood vaccinations (24 percent).
  • Seven out of ten people mistakenly link LD with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.
  • One in three parents report deep feelings of isolation, stress, anxiety, guilt and pessimism regarding their child’s learning and attention issues.

LD in the Schools

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  • More students with LD are found in households living in poverty than in children from the general population.
  • Students with LD earn lower grades and experience higher rates of course failure in high school than students without LD.
  • One in two students with LD experiences a suspension or expulsion.

LD Beyond Schools

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  • During the past decade, the number of students with LD receiving a regular HS diploma has gone up (68 percent from 57 percent), but so has the number graduating with a certificate rather than a HS diploma (12 percent from 7 percent).
  • Forty-one percent of students with LD complete college, compared with 52 percent of the general population.
  • One in 2 young adults with LD (55 percent) reported having some type of involvement with the criminal justice system within 8 years of leaving high school.

Emerging Issues

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The report addresses several important issues for which more reliable data are urgently needed. These include: Response to Intervention (RTI), Common Core State Standards and Assessments, online learning, Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM), charter schools, school vouchers and juvenile justice.

 

 

Read The State of Learning Disabilities


Download a PDF copy of The State of Learning Disabilities.

View state-by-state profiles.

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