Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2017

Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

Department

Special Education and Rehabilitation

First Advisor

Robert L. Morgan

Second Advisor

Kimberly Snow

Third Advisor

Thomas S. Higbee

Abstract

Graduation rates of students with disabilities (SWD) have significantly lagged behind those of students without disabilities in public schools. Dropout rates of SWD are higher than those of students who do not have disabilities. Rates of both graduation and dropouts in full-time k-12 online schools are significantly lower and higher, respectively, than those of traditional schools, and even lower and higher for SWD in those programs. The purpose of this study was to review data of three full-time k-12 online schools in Utah, compare graduation and dropout rates of SWD with those of SWD in all Utah public schools, and to highlight, disaggregate and delineate these differences. In addition, the analysis highlights percentages and numbers of SWD who extend past their cohort graduation year, and receive certificates of completion (non-diploma) in those full-time online schools, compared with those students in all Utah schools. This secondary analysis examined annually gathered data sets from the Utah Board of Education and from three full-time online schools for five cohort-graduation years -- all students and SWD -- and compared and analyzed the cohorts and trends as collected, determined and aggregated by the state of Utah. Percentages of SWD in the three Utah full-time online schools exhibit significantly lower graduation rates – a gap of nearly 40 percentage points in each of 5 cohort years -- and higher dropout rates -- 35 percentage points or more in each of 5 years -- than SWD at all Utah schools. Trends over 5 years are improving in both areas. Percentages of other completers, including SWD who receive certificates of completion, as well as numbers of SWD in the online schools that extend past their cohort-graduation year to complete their high school education, are similar, percentage-wise, to the numbers and percentages of SWD in all Utah schools. The study offers parents, students, school administrators, teachers and policy makers additional data on advisability of enrollment, completion, efficacy of instruction and compliancy to state policy regarding SWD in full-time online schools.

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