THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

FROM:

Rebecca H. Cort 

COMMITTEE:

EMSC-VESID

TITLE OF ITEM:

Updated Special Education Data

DATE OF SUBMISSION:

April 23, 2004

PROPOSED HANDLING:

Discussion

RATIONALE FOR ITEM:

Update on Progress in Results for Students with Disabilities in the Large Five Cities

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 4

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

            In June 2003, we prepared a report to the Board of Regents on special education issues in the large five cities--New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. As a follow-up, this report provides an update on results for students with disabilities in the large five cities compared to other school districts and is a companion report to the report prepared for the Full Board on results for all students and individuals with disabilities. Focus on results for students with disabilities in the large five cities is crucial in order to ensure attention to 42 percent of all students with disabilities.  Also, 76 percent of all minority students in special education are provided services by the large five cities.

 

Over the last several years, we have examined the relationship among poverty of students in high need school districts, special education placement patterns in these districts, access to general education curriculum and the cumulative effects of these factors on student achievement. High need school districts often lack adequate support services in general education and have greater numbers of teachers who are uncertified which makes it more difficult to provide quality instruction and early intervention for all students, including those with disabilities. Failure to ensure access to a rigorous general education curriculum can result in lower performance on State assessments and less likelihood of meeting graduation requirements. As a result, studentsí ability to access postsecondary education and employment is affected.

 

The following statements reflect the current data, indicating that we are making some progress for students with disabilities in the large cities.

 

        Every large city except New York City provides special education services to large percentages of preschool students with disabilities in integrated settings. For example, Buffalo serves 59.1 percent, Rochester serves 85.3 percent, Syracuse

serves 99.6 percent and Yonkers serves 71.5 percent of preschool children with disabilities in integrated settings.

 

        Data are not available for Yonkers, but three of the other large five cities surpassed the national average in placing students with disabilities in general education programs for 80 percent or more of the school day.  Rochester placed 60.1 percent, Buffalo placed 55.0 percent, and Syracuse placed 53.7 percent.  NYC placed 47 percent of school-age students with disabilities in such settings. In 2002-03, the national average was 48.2 percent.

 

       Buffalo reduced from 31.9 percent in 1999 to 19.2 percent in 2002, the number of school-age students with disabilities (ages 6-21) who spend less than 40 percent of the day in general education programs. Syracuse has reduced their rate from 25.9 percent to 13.3 percent, Rochester decreased from 49.9 percent to 31.0 percent and NYC has decreased from 46.3 percent to 41.4 percent.

 

    Compared to 1999, in the large five cities, greater percentages of Black and Hispanic students with disabilities are in general education programs for 80 percent or more of the school day.

 

  Compared to 1999, all cities have made significant improvements in the percentages of students with disabilities achieving proficiency on the Grade 4 Math examinations with results more variable on the Grade 4 ELA, especially in 2003.

 

        Performance on the Grade 4 Math examination in New York City improved from 17.2 percent proficient scores to 31.8 percent, Buffalo improved from 32.5 percent to 37.2 percent, Rochester improved from 21 percent to 37.7 percent, Syracuse went from 31.7 percent to 51.4 percent and Yonkers went from 24.5 percent to 48.1 percent. School districts other than the large five cities improved from 49.4 percent to 59.2 percent.

 

        In the large five cities, greater numbers of students with disabilities are taking the Regents examinations required to graduate with a high school diploma.  Since 1997, the number of students with disabilities taking the examinations has quadrupled on some examinations. 

 

        In the large five cities, greater percentages of students with disabilities are making plans to continue their education after high school, 34.7 percent in 2002-03 compared to 27.0 percent in 1999-00. 

 

However, significant challenges lie ahead:

 

        NYC placed the largest percentage of school-age students with disabilities (ages 6-21) in separate settings (9.2 percent) compared with other need/resource categories of school districts and also compared with each of the other large four cities. This rate is over twice the national average of 4 percent.

 

        Performance of students with disabilities is extremely low on the 8th Grade ELA examination in all need/resource categories of school districts. Only 3.5 percent of students with disabilities achieved proficiency in the large five cities compared to 10.8 percent of students with disabilities outside the large five cities.

 

        In the large five cities, only 2.2 percent of students with disabilities who completed school or reached maximum age earned Regents diplomas compared to 17.8 percent of students with disabilities in other school districts. The Regents diploma rate has improved in the large five cities only from 1.6 percent in 1999-00 to 2.2 percent in 2002-03, while in other school districts it improved from 10.4 percent in 1999-00 to 17.8 percent in 2002-03.

 

        While participation on all Regents exams continues to grow in the large cities, the numbers are significantly lower than those participating in the grades 4 and 8 assessments, reflecting the considerable number of students with disabilities who fail to complete high school.

 

These findings demonstrate the need for increased resources and improved instruction in the large cities. The Department will continue its efforts to target both fiscal and personnel resources on strategies to impact student performance.  These efforts include close coordination between EMSC and VESID in multiple initiatives that recognize that the outcomes for students with disabilities can only improve when there is a strong instructional program that is truly designed to serve all students.