A state-by-state analysis of the most recent data on graduation rates for students with learning disabilities shows that while more of those students have been leaving high school with a standard diploma,of 68 percent for students graduating in that disability category.
Students with learning disabilities make up 41 percent of those covered under federal special education law. The report by the New York City-based National Center for Learning Disabilities argues that far too many of those students are dropping out of school or being shunted to an alternative-certification path that leads to something other than a standard diploma.
The 68 percent of students from the class of 2011 leaving high school with a standard diploma marks an increase from 57 percent in the 2001-02 school year. But 17 states’ rates fell below that national average. Nevada, at 25 percent, was the lowest.
Nationwide, the dropout rate for students with learning disabilities was 19 percent, but 22 states had higher rates. The highest was South Carolina, where 49 percent of students with disabilities dropped out.
The report also calculated graduation rates using the new “adjusted cohort graduation rate,” required by the U.S. Department of Education. While students with disabilities are calculated separately for comparative purposes, they are not broken out by disability categories. Gaps between students with learning disabilities and state averages were wide in some states, including Mississippi, where 75 percent of all students earned a diploma under this measurement and just 23 percent of those with disabilities.
A version of this article appeared in the May 22, 2013 edition of Education Week as Study Reveals Gaps in Grad. Rates