An online survey conducted as part of the Governors Task Force for Preschool Special Education collected data for the 2005-06 school year. All States received surveys, and 23 responded (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin).
An average of 6.2% of preschool children (age 3 and 4) receive Special Education services of some kind (New York had the greatest percentage at 16.1% and California had the lowest percentage at 3.5%). Interestingly, while 6.2% of preschoolers receive special education services, nationwide in the Kindergarten through 12th-grade system, 13.7% were classified in the special education system in the 2003-04 school year.
These facts are subject to different interpretations. For example, these facts may imply that many states serve only some of the children that can (and will) be served when they enter the K-12th grade system. Of course, this also may imply that many preschool children are functioning adequately and then learning problems arise as academic requirements advance.