Achievement Gap between Disabled and Nondisabled Students

By Holly Kosiewicz — December 24, 2008 1 min read

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, researchers, policy makers, and educators have devoted increased attention to academic achievement of students with disabilities. While various studies have shown that students with different learning disabilities have benefitted academically from curricula and teaching methods tailored to meet their needs, most research finds significant achievement gaps between disabled and nondisabled students.

A recent study by the EPE Research Center, Special Education in America, used the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to compare the reading performance of 12th graders with and without disabilities. While five percent of disabled students scored at or above proficiency, 36 percent of nondisabled students attained the same measure of achievement, a gap of 31 percentage points. The majority of disabled students (73 percent) tested below the basic level on NAEP. Other research examined in the center’s report, however, finds that the levels of academic proficiency vary greatly within the special education population. Notably, a student’s particular disability diagnosis (e.g., hearing impairment versus mental retardation) consistently emerges as strong predictor of achievement.

For more state-by-state data on special education and other topics, search the EPE Research Center’s Education Counts database.

1224sow c1


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read