FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Monday, June 25, 2007

For More Information Contact:

Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn or Alan Ray at (518)474-1201

Internet:  http://www.nysed.gov

Students With Disabilities Make Gains,

But Overall Achievement and Graduation Rates Still Too Low

Data on the performance of special education students released today shows progress in the following areas:

“The gains are encouraging, but the data are disturbing overall because achievement is still low,” Regents Chancellor Robert M. Bennett said. “Clearly, much work remains to be done. And the Regents will not be satisfied until all of our students get the extra help and the services they need to reach their full potential.”

Acting State Education Commissioner Kathy Ahearn, said, “Today’s results confirm what the Regents have been saying all along: with the proper supports and adequate resources, all of our children can reach high standards, graduate and move on to college and meaningful work. This is happening in some places around the state, but others are still lagging.”

While significant progress has been made in some areas, the overall level of achievement for students with disabilities remains too low. For example, while performance on this year’s English exam were better than last year’s results, fewer than 23 percent of students with disabilities in grades 3-8 statewide met the standards on that test. Similarly, while the performance of students with disabilities on the math exam improved significantly since last year, just over 37 percent of those students in grades 3-8 met the standards. In both cases, students in low need districts were much more likely to meet the standards.

The graduation rate data also present a mixed picture. While more students with disabilities are graduating high school, and more are earning Regents diplomas, the numbers remain far too low. The five-year graduation rate for the cohort of students who began high school in 2001 was 42.8 percent. However, the data show, once again, that students with disabilities in low need districts fare much better – with 79 percent of those students graduating after five years.

Additionally, the special education classification rate for black and Native American students continues to be disproportionately high. And too many students with disabilities still receive their special education services in separate classes and in separate settings. This problem is especially pronounced in the Big Five school districts.

To address these issues, the Regents and the State Education Department are taking the following actions:

More information can be obtained at www.nysed.gov and in the slides attached.