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Low Grad Rates For Disabled Students Could Cost Michigan Federal Aid

More needs to be known.

July 18, 2018 - 7:35 am
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DETROIT (AP) — Michigan is the only state in the U.S. that needs intervention after failing to meet federal special education requirements this year, according to federal education officials.

The U.S. Department of Education determined the need for intervention after evaluating Michigan's compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, for the 2016-17 school year, the Detroit News reported.

Michigan's rating reflects its high drop-out and low graduation rates for students with disabilities ages 3 through 21, according to education experts.

About 29 percent of Michigan children with disabilities dropped out of school and 63 percent graduated with a regular high school diploma, according to federal officials. In comparison, Massachusetts meets federal IDEA requirements and saw a 15 percent drop-out rate for children with disabilities, while 74 percent of students with disabilities graduated with a regular high school diploma.

In Michigan, 19 percent of eighth-grade students with disabilities and 39 percent of fourth-grade students with disabilities scored basic or above in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In Massachusetts, 46 percent of eighth-grade students with disabilities and 59 percent of fourth-grade students with disabilities did so.

Michigan ranks alongside Washington, D.C., Palau and Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth.

Officials for the state's Department of Education said they're still reviewing the federal report. The U.S. Department of Education declined to comment further on findings.

Jeannine Somberg is the parent of a special education student in Macomb County. She said she isn't surprised by the state's poor performance.

"It is so dismal right now," she said. "It's truly a civil rights issue."

If Michigan is determined to need intervention for three years in a row, the federal education agency will be required to take enforcement action, such as a corrective action plan or a compliance agreement. Michigan could also face future federal payments being withheld, but it's unclear how much funding may be at risk.