Will this help or harm students with disabilities?
A graduation conundrum for students with disabilities
….Louisiana — a hotbed of American education reform — seems about to give its IEP teams the power to decide what students with disabilities need to graduate from high school. …. Christina A. Samuels now covers special education for Education Week and has written an eye-opening account of the battle being waged over this move.
Supporters of the Louisiana measure, unanimously approved by both houses of the state legislature, say “it could improve the state’s dismal record of graduating students with disabilities in four years with a standard diploma,” Samuels reported. “In 2011-12, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the four-year graduation rate for those students was 33 percent, compared to 72 percent for the general student population.”
The education officials and legislators in Louisiana believe that giving IEP teams the power over graduation requirements will narrow those gaps and give students with disabilities a better chance to find employment. But many advocates for children with disabilities — in Louisiana and nationally — say this would unnecessarily and harmfully lower standards for students with disabilities. The Louisiana state school superintendent endorsed the bill only after its sponsors agreed that the IEP teams could decide graduation requirements only if the student failed the annual state exams that are required for graduation.
Read more here.
Posted in The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida, (February 25, 2014)
The newest of 40 high school sites around the state of Florida has implemented the High School High Tech Program, an after school program designed to support students with disabilities work towards life after high school, focusing on science and mathematics.
High School High Tech helps students with disabilities explore career paths that fit their skills and interests, pursue post-secondary education and secure employment, with a focus on STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — fields.
The after-school program is managed by the Able Trust, a state nonprofit dedicated to providing people with disabilities the opportunity for employment, and by the Center for Independent Living.
“The goal is to have every student live independently and have awesome opportunities in life, especially in the high-tech world, where we need all the people we can get,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel.
Read the article here.
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.