National Data Shows Kids With Disabilities Face Deep Disparities
Students with disabilities are more frequently absent from school and continue to be disciplined at far higher rates than their typically-developing peers, federal officials say.
New data released Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that kids with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended and they account for two-thirds of those secluded or restrained at school.
The figures come from data on more than 50 million students representing nearly every one of the nation’s public schools during the 2013-2014 school year.
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The statistics collected every two years by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights highlight a broad array of disparities in students’ educational experiences.
“I don’t think there’s any way you can look at this data and come away without a tremendous sense of urgency to close these equity gaps,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John King.
For the first time, the civil rights data collection tracked the number of students considered chronically absent because they missed 15 or more school days per year. High school students with disabilities were 1.3 times as likely to fall into this category while elementary school kids with disabilities were 1.5 times more likely to be chronically absent as compared to their typically-developing peers, the report indicates.
Meanwhile, the disproportionately high rate of suspensions among students with disabilities remained largely consistent with previous years. Overall, 11 percent of students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act received out-of-school suspensions, the Education Department found, compared to 5 percent of children without disabilities.
The disparity persisted even as the data revealed a 20 percent decrease in the total number of out-of-school suspensions logged across the country compared to the 2011-2012 school year.
The report out this week marks just the second time that the Education Department’s civil rights data collection has included information about the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. It shows that over 100,000 students were subject to the disciplinary practices during the 2013-2014 school year, more than 67,000 of whom had disabilities.
Academically, federal officials found that students with disabilities are less likely than other kids to participate in higher level coursework like calculus and physics. And, about 1 in 5 high school students with disabilities were held back or retained, the report indicates.