From Compliance to Results-Driven Accountability: Addressing the Graduation Rate Issue

Education Week has posted an article on the graduation rate issue with students with disabilities (January 29, 2014).   The article highlights the data behind the low rate (including the readjusted formula for calculating graduation rate), examines what states around the country are doing, and summarizes changes in federal law that will address the issue of students with disabilities not graduating with their cohorts….or at all.  At stake for state special education programs is federal funding if results criteria are not met.

The most recent U.S. Department of Education data, for 2011-12, shows a four-year graduation-rate gap that ranges from a high of 43 percentage points in Mississippi to a low of 3 percentage points in Montana.

By 2015, the Education Department aims to take a closer look at graduation-rate disparities when it evaluates states on their special education performance. And that eventually could affect what states can do with their federal aid for special education

….The graduation gaps reported for the 2011-12 school year are based on what’s known as the “4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate,” which is a standard metric the Education Department now requires states to calculate.

….Looking more closely at the performance of students with disabilities will be a different way of measuring success, Ms. [Melody] Musgrove [director of the federal office of special education programs] said. “What OSEP focuses on is what the states will focus on. That’s what gets better,” she said.

….State special education directors offered different explanations for what was behind their graduation gaps, whether they were wide or narrow.

Patrice Guilfoyle, the director of communications for the Mississippi Department of Education, said that the state’s new accountability system in its No Child Left Behind Act waiver application will help it focus more on graduation rates for students with disabilities.

Read the entire article here.

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