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Report Card on Students with Disabilities



The State’s Report Card on special education students, released today, shows:

·        New York continues to exceed the national average in the number of special education students placed in general education classes for 80 percent or more of the school day.

·        Minority students are over-represented in special education to a lesser degree.

·        Placement of students in special education is constant.

·        More students than ever are declassified out of special education in preschool, as a result of legislative reforms enacted six years ago. But school-age declassification continues to be low.

·        Achievement among students with disabilities is improving significantly in elementary school math and somewhat in middle school math. But performance in elementary and middle school English declined, possibly as a result of the elimination of some testing modifications (such as reading aloud to students when the ability to read is being tested). Middle school achievement also remains unacceptably low.

·        More students with disabilities are taking and passing Regents Exams each year over the period since higher standards were put into effect.

·        A smaller percentage of students with disabilities are passing Regents English and Math Exams after four years, but more students are being counted and more are passing. (Special education students do not have to pass Regents Exams to graduate from high school.) There is little or no decline in the percentage of students passing U.S. History and Global History Regents Exams.

·        More students with disabilities are graduating. More are getting Regents Diplomas (requiring eight Regents Exams) and local diplomas.

·        The achievement gap continues for minority students, most of whom are in the Big 5 Cities, but there is improvement in some ways. More Big 5 students are being placed in general education settings. Minority achievement is improving especially in elementary school math. But middle school performance is very low for minority students.

“We are still far from closing the achievement gap statewide,” Regents Chancellor Robert M. Bennett said. “This report card shows progress. But it also shows many still need much more extra help to reach the standards. The State needs to adopt the Regents State Aid reform proposal if we intend to give all students with disabilities fair access to a good education.”

“The report card for students with disabilities shows some improvement and many continuing challenges,” State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said. “Fewer students are being placed in special education, and more are being educated in classes with everyone else. More students are reaching the standards, but many are still struggling to get there. More are getting Regents Diplomas and then going to college. We need to push relentlessly to close the achievement gap.

Here are some key steps schools can take to ensure students with special learning needs achieve higher standards:

·        Identify children with special needs early, preferably in preschool.

·        Ensure all teachers can address the needs of diverse students with special needs.

·        Use proven research-based approaches to teaching reading and math.

·        Ask schools that have students with disabilities performing at high levels how they have succeeded.

·        Give all students access to a rigorous general education curriculum.

·        Strengthen reading instruction in preK–3 to insure that all students at risk of reading difficulties begin to develop word study skills and comprehension strategies as early as possible.

·        Insure that all students with disabilities are reading at least 25 books a year at the appropriate level of challenge for them and on topics of interest to their age group.

·        Engage students with disabilities in daily conversation about the content of their lessons in each subject. Help with understanding of vocabulary and new concepts in the lessons.

·        Provide daily writing assignments with feedback on development of meaning, organization, and language use (vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar and usage).

For elementary and middle school English and Math tests, achievement is measured at four levels:

·        Level 4 – exceeds the standards

·        Level 3 – meets all the standards

·        Level 2 – meets some of the standards or partially meets the standards

·        Level 1 – shows serious academic difficulties.

The 1999 district cohort consists of students who began 9th grade for the first time in 1999. Counting of these students began in 2001, so all dropouts are included except for those who dropped out during the first two years of high school. The cohort, which is used for school and district accountability purposes, does not include students who transferred to another school district or GED program after October 2001. LEP students who started high school in the U.S. at age 17 or later and were assigned to 9th grade are not included, nor are students with severe  disabilities, who are eligible for the NYS alternate assessment. The special education students in this cohort were not required to pass the Regents English, Math, Global History and Geography, U.S. History and Government, and Science Exams.

The State Education Department is moving toward a student record system in which each student has an identifier that is unique statewide. This move is partially completed, but, for example, students who transfer from one district to another cannot yet be fully accounted for. As a result of this move toward a reporting system with individual student records, more students are being reported and included in the cohort.   

The data slides used in the press conference are attached.


School Report Card:  An Overview - Students with Disabilities 2002-2003 - PowerPoint Presentation