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High School Grad Rates Lag for Students with Disabilities

PHOTO: About 73 percent of Iowa students with disabilities graduate on time, but that rate is still 20 percent lower than those students without disabilities. Photo credit: Bill and Vicki Tracey/Flickr.
PHOTO: About 73 percent of Iowa students with disabilities graduate on time, but that rate is still 20 percent lower than those students without disabilities. Photo credit: Bill and Vicki Tracey/Flickr.
May 14, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - As high school seniors don their caps and gowns at ceremonies across the state, new research finds a major gap in the odds of students with disabilities getting their diploma on time.

According to a study from America's Promise Alliance, Iowa students with disabilities have a high school graduation rate nearly 20 percent lower than students without disabilities.

Steve Crew, chairman with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says that doesn't tell the whole story. He says the state does allow eligible students to receive special education to age 21.

"There are students in Iowa receiving special ed services that don't graduate in the four years, just because their Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determined they needed additional services after that four-year period," says Crew.

Crew also notes Iowa students who receive special education can graduate high school not necessarily with a diploma, but by reaching the goals of their IEP.

"So that they can graduate and not base it upon just a high school diploma," he says. "We are providing kids the services they need to get them to the skill level to be productive members of society."

In Iowa, about 73 percent of students with disabilities graduate from high school within four years, while the figure for those without disabilities is better than 90 percent.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA