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Sioux Falls, SD: 44% of students with IEPs drop out of school

July 17, 2023, Sioux Falls, SD, Argus Leader: Data: South Dakota, Sioux Falls see special education graduation rates decline

Neither the state of South Dakota as a whole, nor the state’s largest school district, Sioux Falls, met the target graduation rate it set for special education students in the Class of 2022.

In fact, graduation rates decreased from the year prior.

That’s according to year-old data released by the South Dakota Department of Education at the end of May. However, exact reasons behind the decline remain unclear.

The data shows the target graduation rate was nearly 68%. The state’s overall graduation rate for the percent of youth with IEPs (individualized education plans) graduating from high school with a regular diploma was 61%, and Sioux Falls’ graduation rate was 48%.

This is a drastic reduction from the year prior, or from the Class of 2021, in which the state’s average graduation rate for students in special education programs was 75.4%, and the district’s rate was 85.4%, with the same target of 68%.

Both the state and district also saw too many youth with IEPs drop out of high school. The target for this metric was 19.35%; the state saw 31.49% of special education students drop out of high school, and the district saw 43.83% of special education students drop out of high school.

The Sioux Falls School District serves 3,500 K-12 students with a variety of medical and developmental conditions that qualify them to receive special education services, and understanding this vast array of conditions may provide some answers as to why graduation rates and target metrics haven’t been met, community relations coordinator DeeAnn Konrad said.

The district’s priorities document is aimed at growth in specific areas, which may be more realistic of a metric than passing or failing, Konrad said.

The South Dakota Department of Education hasn’t responded to the Argus Leader’s questions about why the state didn’t meet the graduation rate or what reasons may explain why the dropout rate is so high, along with other questions.

How did Sioux Falls School District and South Dakota fare on other metrics?

The district struggled to meet proficiency rates on the majority of assessments for students with disabilities at most grade levels, except alternate assessments for eighth graders learning English language arts and alternate assessments for fourth graders learning math.

The state missed some of these metrics as well.

The district and state both didn’t get close enough to the targets on all metrics on child outcomes, including on social-emotional skills, acquisition and use of knowledge and skills and use of appropriate behaviors.

Both the district and state met targets for not over-suspending or over-expelling students with disabilities, according to the data, and for not disproportionately representing students from certain racial and ethnic groups in special education or specific disability categories as the result of inappropriate identification.

The district and state both passed most metrics for the LRE (least restrictive environment) for children with IEPs in both preschool and K-12.

Both the district and state fared well on parent involvement, which looks at the percent of parents with a child receiving special education services who report that schools facilitated parent involvement as a means of improving services and results for children with disabilities.

The state passed all three metrics for post-secondary outcomes. The district passed all but one, which is calculated by the percent of youth enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school. The target for this metric was 11.5%, and the district only had about 5%.

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