I normally don’t just post scores and data, but Chief Student Services Officer Arun Ramanathan is presenting some startling numbers to the San Diego school board right now. Test scores for students with disabilities have stagnated over the past four years while their peers’ scores rose. The result is a growing gulf between students with disabilities and those without:

  • The gap between English scores for non-disabled students and students with disabilities grew 10 percent between 2004 and 2008. Only 13 percent of students with disabilities scored proficient or higher on English tests this year, compared to 52 percent of students without disabilities.
  • The gap in math scores also grew 10 percent over those four years. Today 15 percent of students with disabilities score proficient or higher in math; 46 percent of their non-disabled peers did the same.
  • Over the same time period, suspension rates for students with disabilities have risen 9 percent, compared to a 2 percent raise in suspension rates for the non-disabled. The total rates for 2008: 26.5 suspensions per 100 students with disabilities, compared to 9.3 suspensions per 100 non-disabled students.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, scores for all groups of students — including those with disabilities — must rise yearly for a school or school district to escape penalties. As a result, low achievement among students with disabilities has become a liability for school districts such as San Diego Unified, which did not meet federal testing benchmarks this year due to insufficient scores among both its English learners and students with disabilities.


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