Telephone surveys of parents in the US about the health and well-being of 73,123 children and youths between 4 and 17 years of age revealed that at one time or another 9.5% of the parents said “a doctor or other health-care provider had … told [the parent] that [the] child had ‘attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, that is, ADD or ADHD.'” This represents a substantial increase from the 7.8% of parents who responded in the same way to a similar question four years earlier.
I don’t have time to dive into the details of the study right now, but interested readers can chase it through the US Centers for Disease Control. It was published several days ago as “Increasing Prevalence of Parent-Reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children — United States, 2003 and 2007” in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Over on the Web site of the Manhattan Institute under the headline, “How Special Ed Vouchers Keep Kids From Being Mislabeled as Disabled,” Marcus Winters and Jay Greene published an article reporting their analysis of Florida’s McKay vouchers program. They report that, schools that have nearby voucher-accepting private schools, the incidence of children identified as having Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is inversely correlated with the number of neighboring private schools.
The question examined in this report is whether special-education voucher programs change the likelihood that students will be diagnosed with an SLD. Voucher programs allow disabled students to attend a private school, which receives payments in the form of full or partial tuition that would have otherwise been directed to the transferring student’s public school. Special-education voucher programs appear to reduce a local public school’s financial incentive to diagnose a marginal student who is merely struggling academically as suffering from an SLD by offering him the chance to leave the public school, enter a private school, and take all of his funding with him.
I hope to get a chance to provide a more detailed analysis of the report. Other tasks require immediate action on my part, though. I’d welcome comments from others who have the time to examine the report.
Link to the article by Mr. Winters and Mr. Greene.