Special Education Report Out: Some Districts Fail

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

(Click here to find information for your school district. Click "2007 IDEA Public Report" and follow the instructions.)

Some large mid-Michigan school district are not meeting new state goals for teaching special education students.

In Lansing public schools, just 44 percent of special education students with the ability to get a regular diploma do so.

For Jackson, it's 49 percent. Charlotte graduates 57 percent of special education students. East Lansing stands at 64 percent. And 67 percent of Holt special education students are getting a diploma.

"I think it's a baseline, from which we need to continuously improve," said Cindy Anderson, assistant superintendent for instruction with the Ingham Intermediate School District. The ISD tracks special education in some of those districts.

All of those districts came below the state average and the state goal of 80 percent. But Mason surpassed it with 83 percent, St. Johns had 90 percent and Okemos had 93 percent graduate.

"You'll see a lot of variance in data from district to district based on how many students they have, the severity of needs the students they identify as special ed bring to the process," Anderson said.

The new numbers come from an updated federal law requiring more accountability. Bascially, the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes a No Child Left Behind Act for special education.

So Adequate Yearly Progress -- the measure used to make sure schools are improving -- now applies to special education. All eight districts we've mentioned met AYP for special ed students in elementary school.

Okemos is the only one that met AYP for high school special education. Lansing and Charlotte did not, the others didn't have enough students to properly calculate AYP.

Another key figure measured in the State Performance Plan is how much time disabled students spend with typically developing students.

"Not providing too much support in special education but enough so that they're successful," Anderson said.

The state wanted districts to keep the largest group of special ed kids in regular classes at least 80 percent of the time. Charlotte, East Lansing, Holt, Mason, Okemos St. Johns met the goal. Lansing and Jackson did not.

There are four other accountability measures in the report.

Over the next few years even more information will be available, including whether schools are picking up on disabilities early enough and whether gender or ethnic groups are overrepresented among special ed students.

Click here to find information for your school district. Click "2007 IDEA Public Report" and follow the instructions.

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