Editor's note: This post is a submission to Fordham's 2018 Wonkathon. We asked assorted education policy experts whether our graduation requirements need to change, in light of diploma scandals in D.C., Maryland, and elsewhere. Other entries can be found here.
As the recent debacle at Washington D.C.’s Ballou High school showed, it’s not always clear whether graduation rates mean anything about whether a student is prepared for college or career. But when it comes to students with disabilities, we have reason to believe high school graduation rates are simply a farce.
This past November, The Hechinger Report reported shocking variation across states when it comes to graduation rates for students who qualify for special education. Arkansas is on the high end, with 84 percent of students in special education earning a high school diploma. At the other end of the spectrum were states like Mississippi, where just 31 percent of students with a disability graduated.
We dug into the data to try to figure out what might explain the difference between these two southern, high-poverty states.
Does Mississippi have more severe special needs?
We began by looking at whether students in Arkansas have less severe disabilities than students...