Updated: Aug 12, 2021
How do you find what percentages of students with disabilities in your school district are included over 80% of the time in general education?
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), each state must develop a State Performance Plan and publish an annual report that evaluates how they are implementing the requirements of IDEA.
Each state reports on how they are doing on 17 performance indicators set out by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The percentage of time students with disabilities are included for 80% or more of their day in general education is knows as indicator "5A" for the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
Not only do states publish an annual report for the whole state, but they also publish an annual report about each Local Educational Agency (a.k.a. school districts) in the state using the same indicators.
For instance, in the state of Georgia, using the data from their special education annual report, we know that for the state, 63% of students with disabilities were included over 80% of their day in general education for the 2019-2020 school year. We can also look at the top three largest school districts in Georgia and compare their "5A LRE" numbers since 2017.
When we are talking about measuring inclusive education, we are often talking about the location the students receive their services. It's important to us that the location of students with disabilities be in a general education classroom. A school system cannot include a student if they are not physically present with their typically developing peers.
Unfortunately, percentages of time in general education don't guarantee that your school district provides inclusive practices. We have seen some school districts with inclusion rates of close to 90%—yet they are still clustering special education services for students with intellectual disabilities or autism, which forces parents to send their children to another school that is not their neighborhood school.
But it also is essential for us to stress that where the students learn is only one characteristic of an inclusive school. Other characteristics include co-teaching or collaboration between special and general education teachers, students receiving services in their neighborhood schools, using natural proportions to schedule students with disabilities in their classrooms, and having a shared understanding of what inclusion means for a whole school system. These are indicators that the federal government does not require states to keep track of, but perhaps in the next authorization of IDEA, we can include some of them.
So how do you find your school district's "5A" number? We've taken some of the work out for you. Here is a list of all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and the link to their page on their website that gets you to the right reports to look for your school district's percentage.
Check out the links below, and if you are still having trouble, you can always contact us, and we can help you find what you are looking for.
New Hampshire: https://ireport.education.nh.gov/
North Dakota: https://insights.nd.gov/Education/MapSearch
Rhode Island: http://www.eride.ri.gov/SPED_PublicReporting/
South Dakota: https://doe.sd.gov/sped/spp.aspx
Washington D.C.: https://osse.dc.gov/page/data-and-reports-0
West Virginia: https://wvde.us/special-education/data-and-public-reporting/
Tim Villegas is the Director of Communications for MCIE, Editor-in-Chief of Think Inclusive, and the host of the Think Inclusive Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealTimVegas.