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Helping Students with Disabilities Graduate. What Your School and Community Can Do to Prevent Dropout for Youth with Disabilities Loujeania Williams Bost National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities Prepared for the National High School Center Summer Institute

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Helping Students with Disabilities Graduate

What Your School and Community Can Do to Prevent Dropout for Youth with Disabilities

Loujeania Williams Bost

National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities

Prepared for the National High School Center Summer Institute

Washington, DC, June 2008

How many drop out
How Many Drop Out?

  • NLTS-2 data suggest that 28% of students with disabilities who left school did so by dropping out

  • Students with disabilities drop out of school at twice the rate of general education students

  • One in three students with disabilities do not graduate on time with a regular diploma ( )

How many drop out1
How Many Drop Out?

  • Males drop out at significantly higher rates than females (

  • Special education overrepresentation often mirrors overrepresentation in many undesirable categories—including low expectations, suspension, and dropping out

  • Dropout is most prevalent among youths with Learning Disabilities and Serious Emotional Disturbances

There has been significant progress in students with disabilities completing high school
There Has Been Significant Progress in Students with Disabilities Completing High School


Completed high school

Percentage-point change since 1987 = +17***

Sources: NLTS2 Wave 1 parent interviews, 1987; NLTS2 Wave 2 parent/youth interviews, 2003. Youth had been out of high school up to 2 years.

***p < .001.

Why do students with disabilities drop out
Why Do Students with Disabilities Drop Out? Disabilities Completing High School

  • Tardiness/poor attendance

  • Lack of interest

  • Disability-based difficulties/behavior problems

  • Poor relationships with peers or adults

  • Academic failure (Poor/limited academic skills , credit loss)

  • Movement from school to school

  • Life Events

(Wagner, 2008)

Where do they drop out
Where Do They Drop Out? Disabilities Completing High School

  • Pattern mirrors general education except in few states

  • Half attended chronically low performing high schools located

    • in urban areas in Northeast, Midwest and West

    • In all areas throughout the South and Southeast

Take action

TAKE ACTION Disabilities Completing High School

Focus on interventions that work
Focus on Interventions That Work Disabilities Completing High School

  • Strategies that are focused on student engagement

  • Interventions that occur over time, usually months or years

  • Interventions that involve a family or parent component

  • Interventions that are strength based and involve a variety of contexts

Actions We Can Take Disabilities Completing High School

  • Build early-warning systems that collect and analyze key factors associated with high dropout rates. Use them to flag systemic and student-specific concerns.

  • Establish a framework for local implementation that includes:

    • an efficient infrastructure for collecting and utilizing data to identify strengths, needs and priorities;

    • effective instruction that challenges students and actively engages them in learning;

    • a safe and orderly school climate where students feel welcome and supported; and

    • processes and opportunities for sustained parental involvement that recruit, support and value the role of parents as leaders, teachers, trainers, and decision makers.

Actions We Can Take Disabilities Completing High School

3.Implement System of Comprehensive, Targeted, and Intensive Interventions in Schools and across your Community

4. Adopt and support the implementation of evidence-based practices

5. Stimulate and support change

6. Advocate for Federal and State Investments

  • States and Districts serve as Brokers of Diverse Portfolio of High Schools and Coordinated Interventions

Tiered intervention model
Tiered Intervention Model Disabilities Completing High School

  • Rigorous Curriculum and Instruction Disabilities Completing High School

    • Content Literacy Curriculum

    • Content Enhancement Routines

    • Learning Strategies Curriculum

    • Effective Instruction focused on student engagement (differentiated, direct, strategic, active)

    • Transition and career development

  • Student and Family Supports

    • Individualized Education Plans

    • Check & Connect and other CBI

    • Self-Determination and Advocacy Training

    • Mentors, Tutors, Counseling, Wrap-Around Services

    • Parent Mentor Programs

    • School based health services

    • Parent training

High school reform elements
High School Reform Elements Disabilities Completing High School

  • Assessment and Accountability

    • Progress Monitoring

    • Vocational Assessments for transition planning

    • Performance Indicators/targets

    • Valid & reliable data

    • Diploma pathways

  • Teacher Quality and Professional Development

    • Year round strategy for continuous professional development including onsite coaching

    • Need driven technical assistance

    • Capacity building training

    • Interface with IHEs

  • Organization and Structure Disabilities Completing High School

    • Small learning communities

    • Looping

    • Freshman seminars and academies

    • Transition planning and services

    • Career Pathways

  • Resources for Sustainability

    • State supported Initiatives

    • Capacity Building

    • Funding

  • Stakeholder Engagement Disabilities Completing High School

    • Awareness Campaigns

    • Community partnerships

    • State and local action teams

    • Public reporting

  • Leadership and Governance

    • Leadership Development

    • Policy Review & Reform

    • Legislative Impact

Important state and federal roles in transforming secondary education
Important State and Federal Roles in Transforming Secondary Education

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (State Performance Plans/Indicators and Annual Progress Reporting (targets and improvement activities required for graduation, dropout, and related indicators)

  • Promise Act-(sufficiently funded to transform all low performing high schools)

  • Success in the Middle Bill

  • Adolescent Literacy

  • Work Force Education Act

  • Highly Effective Teacher Fund

  • Data Systems and Graduation Rate Accountability-Common and Accurate Measure, meaningful growth goals, disaggregated, equal to test scores

  • Secondary Innovations Bill

Economic benefits personal benefits
Economic Benefits & Personal Benefits Education

  • Our nation can recoup 45 billion dollars in lost tax revenues, health care expenditures, and social service outlays if we cut the number of high school dropouts in half (Levin et. al, 2007)

  • Improved post school outcomes for the nations youth with disabilities as they enter adult roles in life

Contact information
Contact Information Education

Loujeania Williams Bost, Director


209 Martin Street

Clemson, SC 29631

Phone: (864) 656-1253

Fax: (864) 656-0136