America's Promise has a new report titled Building a Grad Nation. The section on disabilities shows that there is room for improvement:
Students with disabilities, specifically those students receiving special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), make up approximately 13 percent of all public school students nationwide.
The percentage of students identified for special education varies greatly from state to state, ranging from less than 9 percent of public school students in Texas to more than 17 percent of the students in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Students with disabilities constitute significant portions of K-12 public school enrollment, so driving improvements will rest heavily on raising their graduation rates.
What percentage of students with disabilities are graduating from your state? Use this interactive chart to find out >>
The graduation rate for students with disabilities hit 61.9 percent in 2012-13, an increase of 2.9 percentage points since 2010-11, but still nearly 20 points behind the national average. Estimates show that the graduation rate gap between students with disabilities and students in the general population ranges across states from 3.3 percentage points to 58.8 points.
State variations of ACGR data, coupled with variation in state allowances for special education guidelines, contribute to the disparities keeping special education students from reaching their full potential. In addition chronic, negative misperceptions and disciplinary disproportionalities add to the challenge of keeping these students in school and on track to graduate.
It is estimated that 85 to 90 percent of special education students can meet regular diploma requirements with the right supports.