High school graduation rate for disabled students rising

While they once may have been institutionalized or put in special education, young people in Missouri with disabilities increasingly go through mainstream education. Though their graduation rates lag behind able-bodied students, the graduation rate of disabled students is climbing upward in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics recently announced that nearly 62 percent of high school seniors with disabilities graduated during the 2012-13 school year. That was 3 percent higher than two years prior, though it was well behind the country’s overall high school graduation rate of 81 percent in 2012-13, a record high.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the findings, but he noted that there is a great deal of variation from state to state when it comes to disabled students finishing high school. For example, Arkansas had the highest graduation rate for disabled high schoolers at 80 percent, virtually identical to the overall national rate. Meanwhile, next door in Mississippi, the graduation rate for disabled students was just 22.5 percent.

Education leads to personal enrichment, and prepares young people for a career, for those able to work. Of course, for those living with a disability, getting an education can present a unique challenge. The costs of physical therapy, medication, personal assistance and other necessities can be too much for many parents to handle, as much as they want the best for their kids.

Low-income families that include a disabled child may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal program that seeks to ensure that children with disabilities do not have to do without.

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