Grad rate of special ed students continues climb

Grad rate of special ed students continues climb

(Calif.) Performance of the state’s 700,000 special education students continues to improve, registering a high school graduation rate of nearly 62 percent continuing a five-year trend.

Although the number remains below California’s federal target of 66 percent, it represents a significant improvement just since 2009 when slightly more than 56 percent of students with disabilities, or SWD, graduated from high school.

In its annual report to the U.S. Department of Education on services provided to SWD, the California Department of Education noted that statewide local educational agencies met 70 percent of the 17 target indicators set by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The CDE reported that in the 2013-14 school year, LEAs served 705,308 special education students up to 22 years of age – which represents about 11 percent of the state’s total student enrollment.

Of the 13 categories of disability, the largest number in California were identified last year as having a “Special Learning Disability,” defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language either spoken or written. SLD accounted for 39.9 percent of the special education population or nearly 282,000 students.

The second largest group were designated as speech-language impairment, 22.7 percent or about 161,000 students; and the third largest group were students identified has having Autism spectrum disorder, which accounted for 12 percent or nearly 85,000 students.

The vast majority of California’s SWD attend regular public day school, about 86.3 percent or slightly more than 608,000 students. Charter schools provided services last year to 23,586 special education students or about 3.3 percent.

Although California didn’t meet its target for graduating SWD, it did meet the dropout rate standard – right at the 15.7 percent target.

Suspension and expulsion was something of a mixed bag with the overall rate of 1.2 percent coming in well below the state’s target of 10 percent. But for suspension and expulsion by race and ethnicity – which had a target of zero percent, fell short at 1.9 percent.

On the critical issue of disproportionality – the degree to which subgroups are either over or under represented in special education – California LEAs also failed to meet federal targets set at zero. For overall disproportionality, .09 percent of districts have significant disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic groups in special education considered the result of inappropriate identification.

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