Grad rates, dropouts improve for special ed students

Grad rates, dropouts improve for special ed students

(Calif.) More students enrolled in California’s special education programs graduated high school in 2015 while fewer dropped-out, continuing a three-year trend.

Although the state failed to meet its federal targets in both categories, the graduation rate among students with disabilities has improved from just under 62 percent in 2013 to 64.5 percent in 2015. The goal is a 90 percent graduation rate.

Meanwhile, fewer SWD are also dropping out: 15.7 percent in 2013, compared to 14.4 percent in 2015. The target last year was 13.7 percent.

In 2015, almost 75 percent of all high school seniors graduated while 10.7 percent dropped out of school.

The new data comes from an annual report the California Department of Education will be submitting to federal officials to show how schools have used funding provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The state board, which meets this week, must approve the report.

In 2015, there were nearly 735,000 students enrolled in special education across the state–or about 10.6 percent of the total school enrollment. That total has grown by almost 55,000 students since 2010.

Most of the SWD in California, like most states, are male–constituting 68 percent of the total. Almost 30 percent are English learners. The majority–about 49 percent–are also between the ages of 6 and twelve years old.

As in the past, the largest category of learning disability are students identified as having a “specific learning disability,” about 39 percent; the second most common primary disability is speech/language impairment at almost 22 percent.

Almost 56 percent of the total number of SWD are Hispanic and 25 percent are white—both close to their representation percentage within the total student enrollment.

Almost 9 percent are African American–which is higher than the group’s 5.8 percent total of the state’s enrollment. The number of Asian students enrolled in special education is about 6.2 percent–well below that subgroup’s 8.8 percent total of the state enrollment.

The vast majority of the students enrolled in special education attend regular public school–slightly more than 85 percent. Less than 6 percent attend charter schools; with smaller numbers attending nonpublic schools (1.5 percent) or special education centers (1.2 percent).

The most common service provided last year was “specialized academic instruction,” which was provided to almost 35 percent of SWD. About 20 percent received speech or language support and almost 10 percent got vocational or career services.