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Facts from NLTS2: General Education Participation and Academic Performance of Students With Learning Disabilities

NCSER 2006-3001
July 2006

Summing Up

There has been a significant increase in students with learning disabilities participating in general education classes— the typical setting for many academic courses. Most secondary school students with learning disabilities participate in at least one general education class.

The curriculum used in instructing the majority of students with learning disabilities who are in general education academic classes often is modified to some degree. Reports of most other teacher-directed aspects of the class, such as instructional groupings, materials used, and instructional experiences outside the classroom, are largely the same for students with learning disabilities as for their classmates.

The similarity of experiences of students with learning disabilities and their peers in general education academic classes with regard to teacher-directed aspects of the class contrasts sharply with the differences between the groups in their participation in classroom activities. Students with learning disabilities are consistently reported to be less likely to participate in their general education academic classes than are their classmates.

Despite these differences in students' behaviors in class, most students with disabilities have teachers who report that their placement in the class is "very appropriate." Further, almost all are expected to keep up with the rest of the class. To help them keep up, almost all students with learning disabilities are reported to receive some type of accommodation, support, or learning aid.

The majority of students receive passing grades in their general education academic courses; however, they fare less well on standardized academic assessments. Three-quarters or more of youth with learning disabilities score below the norming sample mean across the assessment subtests administered in NLTS2. Specifically, youth with learning disabilities experience the greatest difficulty with reading comprehension.

This is the second in a series of NLTS2 fact sheets focusing on the experiences and outcomes of youth in a specific disability category. Fact sheets and other products from NLTS2 are made available on the study's website: