Here are some very discouraging highlights from the executive summary of he first volume:
- Youth with an IEP are more likely than their peers to be socioeconomically disadvantaged and to face problems with health, communication, and completing typical tasks independently. For example, they are 12 percentage points more likely to live in low-income households (58 versus 46 percent), and less likely to have parents who are employed or have a college education. Although, according to parents, 70 percent of youth with an IEP are in very good or excellent health, nearly 30 percent have chronic physical or mental health conditions or use prescription behavioral medication (about three times more common than among youth without an IEP). Parents also report that 44 percent of youth in special education have trouble understanding what others say to them (versus 8 percent of their peers) and that they are less likely to perform each of several activities of daily living without help, such as using an automated teller machine (ATM) (37 versus 55 percent) and getting to places outside the home (85 versus 95 percent). However, on average youth with an IEP are no more likely than their peers to face other challenges, such as limited English proficiency or attending an academically lower-performing school.
- Males represent a larger share of youth with an IEP than of youth without an IEP. Policymakers and educators have long been concerned that some groups of students might be identified for special education services at different rates. Although the study cannot unravel the mix of factors that could be responsible for this pattern, two-thirds of youth with an IEP are male, compared with about half of their peers.
- The vast majority of youth with and without an IEP feel positive about school, but those with an IEP experience bullying and are suspended at higher rates, and are less engaged in school and social activities. Like their peers, more than 80 percent of youth in special education report that they are happy with school and with school staff. However, not only do youth with an IEP more commonly experience some types of bullying (for example, 37 versus 28 percent for being teased or called names), but their parents also indicate they are more than twice as likely to be suspended (29 versus 14 percent) or expelled (8 versus 3 percent) from school. In addition, they report having lower participation rates in school extracurricular sports and clubs than their peers (64 versus 81 percent), and are less likely to get together with friends on a weekly basis (52 versus 66 percent).
- Youth with an IEP are more likely than youth without an IEP to struggle academically, yet less likely to receive some forms of school-based support. Half of all youth with an IEP report they have trouble with their classes, about 15 percentage points more than reported by their peers. However, they are 6 percentage points less likely to report receiving school-based academic help before or after school (72 versus 78 percent). On the other hand, parents of youth with an IEP report being more likely than other parents to help their children with homework weekly (62 versus 54 percent) and to attend a parent-teacher conference (84 versus 65 percent).
- Youth with an IEP lag their peers in planning and taking steps to obtain postsecondary education and jobs. Nearly 20 percentage points fewer youth with an IEP expect to enroll in some type of postsecondary education or training, compared with youth without an IEP (76 versus 94 percent). The gap is nearly 30 percentage points for those expecting to obtain a four-year college degree (51 versus 80 percent). Reflecting these gaps, youth in special education are almost half as likely as their peers to report taking college entrance and placement tests (42 versus 70 percent). Forty percent report having recent paid work experience, compared with 50 percent of youth without an IEP. In addition, parents of youth with an IEP are less likely than other parents to anticipate that their children will live independently as adults (78 versus 96 percent).
- Youth with a 504 plan face fewer functional, social, and educational challenges than do youth with an IEP, but more than other youth without an IEP. On several indicators examined, youth with a 504 plan fare better than youth with an IEP but worse than other youth without an IEP. These indicators include communication and performance on some activities of daily living, involvement in school activities, being suspended from school, and expectations about obtaining a four-year college degree. For example, the proportion who participate in a school sport or club (76 percent) is between that of youth with an IEP (64 percent) and other youth without an IEP (81 percent). However, youth with a 504 plan have more advantaged backgrounds than these other groups and are less likely to attend lower-performing schools.