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Program Completion of Students with Disabilities

School Completion

The percentage of students with disabilities, ages 14 through 21, who graduate or complete school.


Maryland Students with Disabilities who Graduated with Diploma or Certificate, by Academic Year
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Graduated with Diploma 35.0% 35.0% 36.5% 36.7% 40.9% 40.3% 38.0% 41.3%
Graduated with Certificate 5.4% 5.4% 6.3% 6.5% 6.6% 6.7% 7.1% 8.6%

Data Source:  Unpublished data provided by the Maryland State Department of Education (State totals include students in non- jurisdictional agency placements).

Story Behind the Data:

The percentage of students with disabilities in Maryland who graduated/completed high school saw a steady increase between 2006 and 2011.  In 2012, however, the percentage of students with disabilities in Maryland who graduated with a diploma decreased by more than two percentage points, while the percent graduating with a certificate saw a modest gain of 0.36%.  During 2013, the percentage of students with disabilities who graduated/completed high school saw a significant increase, more than negating the decline from the year before.  Students with disabilities who received a diploma increased by 3.34 percentage points from 37.96% in 2012 to 41.30% in 2013, and the percentage of students who received a certificate increased by 1.53 percentage points from 7.07% in 2012 to 8.60% in 2013.

Several factors have directly contributed to the recent increase in the number of students with disabilities who received a high school diploma.  Maryland is continuing to build, implement, and sustain special education programs and related services with evidence-based practices that will yield results in dropout prevention, re-entry, and school completion for these students.  The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is sensitive to the myriad social, emotional and physical challenges often faced by students with disabilities, which if not addressed, can have an adverse impact on the dropout, truancy and suspension rates among this population.

Maryland is one of 48 states that is currently engaged in a diverse number of targeted, evidence-based interventions to improve graduation/school completion rates for  all students, such as:  Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, Universal Design for Learning, mentoring programs, transition supports, and recovery and re-entry programs.

In an effort to enhance the quality of life for students with disabilities and their families, MSDE, Division of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (DSE/EIS), launched a five-year strategic plan through January 2018.  Focused on four strategic imperatives, the strategic plan is designed to advance the Division’s overarching vision of narrowing the achievement gap for all children with disabilities from birth through age 21.

In addition, Maryland’s students have benefited greatly from three federal grants that were awarded to MSDE by the U.S. Department of Education.  The Race to the Top (RTT) grant (2011); the Race to the Top, Early Learning Challenge Grant (RTTEC) grant (2012); and the State Personnel Development grant (2013) awards have allowed MSDE to create a number of new initiatives to facilitate school improvement and reform efforts at the State and local school system level (LSS).  Targeted activities include:

  • Supporting LSSs and Public Agencies (PAs) in obtaining state-of-the-art assistive technology devices and providing training in their efforts to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities;
  • Providing intensive district-wide professional development for special education and regular education teachers that focuses on scaling-up, through replication, proven and innovative evidence-based strategies in reading, math and positive behavioral supports to improve outcomes for students with disabilities;
  • Developing and expanding the capacity to collect and use data to improve teaching and learning; and
  • Expanding the availability and array of inclusive placement options for preschool age students with disabilities by developing the capacity of public and private preschool programs to serve this population of children.

Additional Information: