Every DC special education parent, teacher and advocate with experience in the field will tell you: Special education done appropriately is neither cheap nor easy, and happens only if it’s made a priority. So why do we rarely talk about the abysmal achievement and graduation rate for students with disabilities? According to the DC School Report Card, 16 percent of the 97,503 students in DC’s traditional public schools and public charter schools are students with disabilities. PARCC scores for these students are ridiculously depressing: a 7.9 percent proficiency rate in English language arts and a 9 percent proficiency rate in math. Just 47 percent of our students with disabilities graduate within four years.
There is no justification for this woeful underachievement. The overwhelming majority of students with disabilities can and should achieve on grade level — as long as their schools follow the law. Read this commentary by DCASE Executive Director in The DC Line