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Blog:  In the News

5 Ways Parents Can Use the New “State of LD” Report

In the News blog post by The Understood Team
May 03, 2017

Parent reading "State of LD" report

Hungry for some good data? Then dig into a new report called The State of Learning Disabilities: Understanding the 1 in 5. It was published this week by one of Understood’s founding partners, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).

This is the fourth edition of The State of LD. (“LD” is short for learning disabilities.) The report is a trusted resource for parents, educators and policymakers. And the new version has broadened in scope to include ADHD. The subtitle refers to the 1 in 5 children in the U.S. who have learning and attention issues.

The State of LD uses the latest statistics to shine a light on key challenges facing the 1 in 5. It also includes field-leading research and new opportunities to help these children succeed in school and in life. Here are five ways parents can use the report to help kids thrive.

1. Get the big picture.

The State of LD covers a broad range of topics, from identifying struggling students to helping them get ready for life after high school. The executive summary gives a good overview.

There’s also a “1 in 5” snapshot that explains common barriers to success. It includes several ways to help kids with learning and attention issues. See this two-page PDF, which is designed to be printed and shared.

2. Be a myth buster.

The State of LD debunks common myths about learning and attention issues. For example, 48 percent of parents believe—incorrectly—that kids will “outgrow” these issues. And 33 percent of teachers think that sometimes learning and attention issues are really just laziness.

By sharing the report, you can help reduce stigma and help more kids get the support they need to succeed.

3. Learn about the importance of high expectations.

Children with learning and attention issues are as smart as their peers. And with the right support they can achieve at high levels. That’s one of the key takeaways in The State of LD.

But low expectations can limit opportunities. As noted in The State of LD, less than 3 percent of students in gifted programs or AP courses have IEPs. Twice-exceptional students need to be on the radar at more schools. Only seven states include “gifted with a disability” when they define kinds of giftedness.

4. See how your state stacks up.

The State of LD uses interactive graphics to highlight differences between states. Topics include:

  • Disability type: How many students with IEPs are identified as having LD? States vary widely in this area. In Utah, it’s 48 percent. In Kentucky, it’s 19 percent.
  • Repeating a grade: How many students with IEPs or 504 plans have to repeat a grade? In Louisiana, 11 percent of students who repeat a grade have 504 plans. In Massachusetts, 34 percent have IEPs.
  • Graduation: How many students who have IEPs for LD leave school with a regular diploma? In New Jersey, it’s 95 percent. In Nevada, it’s 31 percent.

The report also has a State Snapshots section. Choose your state from the menu to get key data and details on state laws. Does your state have a third-grade reading law? A dyslexia law? Neither? The two-page state snapshots are another tool you can use to help advocate for change.

5. Dig in to policy.

The more you know about your child’s rights, the more effective you can be as an advocate for your child. The first chapter of The State of LD has a handy overview of federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. This includes laws that protect the rights of students with disabilities.

The other chapters go into more detail about new laws or new guidance. There’s also a section on recommended policy changes. See why personalized learning has the power to transform education for kids with learning and attention issues. And understand how social-emotional learning needs to be tailored so the 1 in 5 can truly benefit from it.

Learn what The State of LD says about school choice, third-grade reading laws and other policies that affect your child’s rights. These and other insights in the report can help you help your child.


Are you looking for more ways to advocate for your child? Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), you have more of a say in how your state will account for student achievement. Download the ESSA parent advocacy toolkit, and use it to make your voice heard.

About the Blogger

Understood Team Graphic

The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

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