Graduation Disparities Loom Large for Students With Special Needs

The wide graduation-rate gaps in many states between students with disabilities and those in regular education raise the stakes for next year’s first-ever federal evaluation of how well states are serving their special education students.

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.

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