What you need to know

Learning Disabilities by the Numbers

By Amanda Morin

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How many schoolchildren get special education services for learning disabilities (LD)? How do they fare as adults? You’ll find these and other eye-opening facts here.

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Learning Disabilities by the Numbers

How common are learning disabilities (LD)? Explore stats from the National Center for Learning Disabilities below. Keep in mind that having LD doesn’t mean someone isn’t intelligent. But people with LD do better when they have the right support. Here’s a closer look at LD by the numbers.

In K–12 public schools

42% of the 5.7 million students getting special education services have LD.
Two-thirds of public school students identified with LD are male, but only 50% of the total public school population is male

68% of students with LD graduate with a high school diploma.
In the classroom

66% of kids with LD spend at least 80% of their school day in general education classrooms. That's 19% more time than in 2002.

One-third of students with LD have been held back in a grade at least once.

Between 12% and 26% of high school students with LD earned average or above-average scores on math and reading assessments.
In the community
4.6 million Americans report having LD

67% of young adults with LD are in a postsecondary program eight years after high school—the same rate as the general population.

46% of Americans with LD are employed, but 71% of Americans without LD are employed.
Graphic of Learning Disabilities by the Numbers
Graphic of Learning Disabilities by the Numbers

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Sheldon Horowitz

Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., is senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

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