Evidence-Based Practices for Dropout Prevention for Students with Disabilities

By Caryn R. London


This issue of NASET’s Classroom Management series was written by Caryn R. London. As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states must submit yearly reports to The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) that disclose the state’s collective performance for meeting specific targets that measure the implementation and performance of IDEA requirements, as reported by Local Education Agencies (U. S. Department of Education, 2023, August 21). The dropout rate of students ages 14-21 with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) is one specific target. This target is calculated by examining all six categories for exiting special education and school in general (graduated with a regular high school diploma, graduated with an alternate diploma, received a certificate, dropped out, aged out, and died), and then dividing this number by only the students that dropped out (U. S. Department of Education, 2023, April 16). When this statistic is compared to students without disabilities, it is clear that students with disabilities are at a greater risk for dropping out of school (Stark & Noel, 2015;  McFarland et al., 2016). While transition planning within student IEPs and yearly monitoring is required per IDEA, students with disabilities are still more likely to drop out of school compared to their non-disabled peers (MacFarland et al., 2019). Unfortunately research focusing on dropout prevention specifically for students with disabilities is limited.

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