Between 1996–97 and 2005–06, the percentage of students with disabilities exiting school with a regular high school diploma increased from 43 to 57 percent.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that youth with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate public school education. In 2005–06, the percentage of students with disabilities exiting school with a regular high school diploma was 57 percent, an increase from 43 percent in 1996–97 (see table 22-1). About 94 percent of these students were between the ages of 17 and 19 years old (see table 22-2). In addition to the increase in the percentage of regular high school diplomas received over this period, the percentage of students with disabilities exiting with a certificate of attendance1 increased from 9 to 15 percent, while the percentage who dropped out2 without a credential decreased from 46 to 26 percent (see table 22-1).
Among students with disabilities, those with visual impairments and those with hearing impairments were the two groups with the highest percentages exiting with a regular high school diploma. For example, in 2005–06, some 72 percent of students with a visual impairment exited with a regular high school diploma. In contrast, students with mental retardation had the lowest percentage (37 percent), followed by students with an emotional disturbance (43 percent) and students with multiple disabilities (44 percent) (see table 22-2). About 62 percent of students with a specific learning disability exited with a regular high school diploma. In 2005–06, students with specific learning disabilities accounted for 60 percent of all exiting students with disabilities.
In 2005–06, students with disabilities in 29 states and the District of Columbia exited school with a regular high school diploma at a rate higher than the national rate of 57 percent for students with disabilities (see table 22-3). The percentage who exited high school with a regular diploma ranged from a high of 91 percent in the District of Columbia to a low of 21 percent in Nevada. In many states, a large percentage of students with disabilities exited with a certificate of attendance. In 14 states, the percentage of students with disabilities exiting with such a certificate was greater than the national average of 15 percent. For example, 54 percent of students with disabilities exiting school in Mississippi received a certificate of attendance.
1 Students who exited an educational program and received a certificate of completion, modified diploma, or some similar document. This includes students who received a high school diploma, but did not meet the same standards for graduation as those for students without disabilities. (back to text)
2 “Dropped out” is defined as the total who were enrolled at some point in the reporting year, were not enrolled at the end of the reporting year, and did not exit for any of the other reasons described. For the purpose of calculating dropout rates, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) counts as dropouts students who moved and were not known to continue. (back to text)
Note 8: Student Disabilities
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