Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed: Puzzling about Students and Graduates with Disabilities

Where did the students with disabilities go?

The chart above tracks roughly the same group of Kentucky students with disabilities through their school careers by:
  • Starting with the count of 2005 students taking the grade 4 mathematics assessment
  • Following through matching math counts for the next three grades in the next three years
  • Leaving a grade 8 gap because 2009 testing reports did not include numbers of students tested
  • Adding the number starting high school, reflecting the figure used to calculate the statewide four year graduation rate as a count of the entering grade 9 class for the 2009-10 school year
  • Continuing with number of students taking state writing assessments in grades 10 and 11
  • Closing with the 2013 number who graduating in four years and the 2014 number graduating in five years or less

This way of looking at the data raises two big questions:
  • How did the class lose almost 2,400 students between grade 7 testing and the start of high school/grade 9?
  • How did the class regain more than 1,100 of those students for grade 10 testing?
The puzzles only grows when the same method is applied to the next two classes. The testing numbers change only slightly, but the number of students with disabilities starting high school and graduating drop even further in the charts below.

Answers may include admission and release committees making sound decisions that some students no longer need special education services, specialized details of how data is gathered from our statewide student information system for graduation calculations, or other factors I haven't yet guessed at. I can't supply the answers yet, so I'll simply say that I'm thoroughly puzzled.

--Posted by Susan Perkins Weston

For number-lovers: Testing numbers come from state-level NCLB reports for 2005 through 2008, the Interim Performance Report for 2011, and the school report card assessment files for 2012 through 2015. The starting high school numbers are the denominators used to calculate the four year graduation rate and the graduate numbers are the four year and five year numerators, all found in the school report card delivery target files.

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