The figure is nearly 20 percent lower than the national rate, which continued its long upward trend after hitting 80 percent for the first time in 2012.
“Special education students are at a disadvantage because many face inherent risk factors due simply to their disability,” the report states. “For example, many students with disabilities have increased health related absences, leading to more course failures and lower grades and putting them at risk for falling off track to graduation.
“However, many of the challenges these students encounter come at the hands of the adults in their life, in the form of low expectations, issues of over-identification, and chronic disciplinary disproportionalities that keep many from achieving at their fullest potential.”
The report narrowed in on two primary factors that hold back students with disabilities as a whole.
First, Grad Nation highlighted the role of chronic misperceptions of the abilities of students to perform academically, not only from educators, but from parents and the general public as well.
Next, the report criticized school officials for overwhelming discipline disparities between students with and without disabilities.
Nationwide, students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be suspended as their peers.
In addition, students with disabilities, while making up just 13 percent of the student population, represented 58 percent of those placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement, and 75 percent of those physically restrained in schools.
“This year, we need to sound a stronger alarm,” the report states. “We are running out of time to close large and lingering gaps in graduation rates among different student populations.
“While progress is substantial in many areas of the country, the number of non-graduates remains disturbingly high for students of color, students from low-income families, and young people with disabilities.”