Start Behind, Get Behinder

Disabled students in segregated education settings get 23 percent fewer minutes of instruction per day… and it adds up

My son is autistic. Shortly after his diagnosis by our insurer, we started the Special Education process. We didn’t know anything. Though we were given “Procedural Safeguards”, we had no clue and we trusted the school and the teachers.

They started us in “Special Day Class” (or, more accurately, Segregated Day Class) solely with other disabled children in preschool.

They didn’t ask us.

They didn’t tell us there was an option.

Now, in Second Grade, they are trying to do it again.

But, we’ve learned.

In addition to losing the social and educational connection with his “general education” or “typically developing” peers (which is good for both sets of students)… he would also lose a lot of education.

Start behind, get behinder

The National Council on Disability published this excellent report “The Segregation of Students with Disabilities – IDEA Series (2018)” – go read it!

On page 39, stated in studied, bureaucratic language, there is a bit of a bombshell on “instructional minutes”.

When comparing special versus regular
education classes, they found significant

differences in the amount of time spent in

noninstructional activity: in special education

classes, 58 percent of the time was not devoted

to instruction, in contrast with only 35 percent

of noninstructional time in general education


How many students?

There are approximately 58 million students in our basic system in the US (Elementary school through High School). Approximately 15 percent of students are classified as Students with Disabilities (over 8 million)  and, on average, over 13 percent of those students are placed in segregated settings for most of their school day (around 1 million).

There are also many additional disabled students who spend part of their day in a segregated classroom (less than 60% of the day) which I’ve not included in this total.

The number of students in segregated settings varies widely among the US states (more to follow).

Bottom line:

  • Kids in general education get 65% of their day devoted to instructional time
  • Kids in “special education” / segregated classrooms, get 42% of their day devoted to instructional time.

23% fewer minutes of actual education per day.

That is equivalent to 41.25 fewer days  or 8.25 fewer weeks of school per year

… for over 1 million disabled students.

Given this – how is your child going to catch up? keep up? or ever get included with their general education peers again?

(Do keep an eye out for “modified curriculum” – this is a HUGE red flag)

And this has consequences.

Students with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities have a 20 percent EMPLOYMENT rate (not unemployment rate) compared to 70+ percent of the non-disabled population and 30 percent(0sh) for the disabled community as a whole.

The Segregated Education Gap

This chart breaks down the educational impact (or gap) for you of a segregated education in the US today for disabled students.

Start Behind, Get Behinder - Educational Minutes for Students with Disabilities in Segregated Settings

This table models the expected number of minutes actually spent on educational content for disabled students who are taught in segregated settings (often called Special Day Class or SDC) compared to their general education peers. This model is based on the report from the National Council on Disabilities - The Segregation of Students with Disabilities – IDEA Series (2018) page 39 -
Educational SettingInstructional Time (percent)4 hour day6 hour day20 hour week30 hour weekStandard School Year 4 hour Day (180 Days)Standard School Year 6 hour Day (180 Days)
General Education65%2.6 hours3.9 hours13 hours19.5 hours468 hours702 hours
Special Education (Segregated)42%1.68 hours2.52 hours8.4 hours12.6 hours302.4 hours453.6 hours
Education Gap23%.92 hours1.38 hours4.6 hours6.9 hours165.6 hours248.4 hours

Title: Start Behind, Get Behinder. Body - Disabled Students in segregated settings have 42 percent of school time devoted to academic instruction vs. 65 percent for their general education peers. 23% fewer minutes of education per day 8.25 fewer weeks of school per year. - The Segregation of Students with Disabilities – IDEA Series (2018) National Council on Disabilities page 39 -
Disabled students in segregated education settings get 23% fewer minutes of education per day 8.25 fewer weeks of school
per year.

Similar Posts