Youth Will Complete School (Statewide)

Program Completion of Students with Disabilities: % of Students with Disabilities Who Graduated with Diploma


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Story Behind the Curve

The 2016 Maryland Special Education Census Data (Table 26) continues to show a steady increase in the percentage of students with disabilities in Maryland who graduated/completed high school. During 2015 and 2016, students with disabilities who received a diploma increased by 2.7 percentage points from 43.1% in 2015 to 45.8 % in 2016; the percentage of students who received a certificate decreased by  one percentage point from 7.6% in 2015 to 6.6% in 2016.  The Maryland Report Card data for students with disabilities who graduated with a diploma in four years yielded a 6.8 percentage point increase between 2013 and 2016 as compared to a 2.3 percentage point increase for all students. This represents a narrowing of the gap between students with disabilities as compared to students without disabilities in graduation rate by 4.5 percentage points. In addition, there was an 8.2 percentage point increase between 2012 and 2016 for those students with disabilities graduating with a diploma after five years in high school.

What Works

There are several factors that have directly contributed to the increase in the number of students with disabilities who have received a high school diploma. Maryland continues to build, implement, and sustain special education and related services with evidence-based practices related to self-advocacy, career exploration, paid work experiences, and system linkages. This will yield results in dropout prevention, re-entry, and school completion for these students. The Maryland State Department of Education is sensitive to 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. Ultimately, effective instruction is the most compelling predictor to decreasing dropout, truancy, and suspension/expulsion rates.

Local Highlight

Recently, Prince George’s County has demonstrated an increase in graduation rates surpassing the State average. There has been an increased emphasis on engaging rising eighth and ninth grade students with disabilities to identify career pathways based on their interests.  There are opportunities during the summer for students with and without disabilities to participate in Career Academies aimed at early exposure and participation in a variety of Career & Technology programs offered in Prince George’s County. The Career Academies are co-taught by instructors from Special Education and Career & Technology Education with an emphasis on early identification of a chosen career pathway.  The potential impact for students to remain engaged in their education is evident through programs and opportunities that are aligned with evidence-based practices and predictors. In fact, access to Career & Technology Education with outcomes is a prominent predictor for school completion and post-school success. 

The MSDE, DSE/EIS is committed to providing leadership, support, accountability for results, as well as resource and fiscal management to our public/nonpublic schools and public/private agencies.  The Division continues to engage key stakeholders in developing a seamless, comprehensive system of coordinated services to children and students with disabilities, birth through age 21 and their families.

Data Source

Maryland Special Education/Early Intervention Services Census Data; Maryland; School Effectiveness and Chief Performance Office



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Point of Contact

Sylvia Lawson

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