Impact Of Youth With Disabilities Dropout Rates Education Essay

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There is sufficient evidence to conclude that excluding special education dropout statistics from regular national statistics places the problems associated with youth with disabilities under the radar. The findings of this research indicate that special education students that dropout of school are twice more likely to experience incarceration as compared to dropout as a regular education student. The risks are very high when a youth with disabilities drop out of school. It was report about 73% of them that dropout would be incarcerated within a five year time span.

The problem seems not to go away because it also had been proven that most of the juvenile youths with disabilities end being incarcerated in the adult prison system. It is quite obvious that special education students need aren't be catered due to the high populations in juvenile facilities. It has been found that most of the youths that dropout are either learning disabled or emotionally disturbed.

It was found in the adult correctional system that there is a serious problem with learning and emotional disabilities. It seems like there's a prison pipeline running from juvenile corrections to adult corrections. The reported numbers and calculations are a true representation of impact of identifying the needs of youths with disabilities. It is prevalent through extensive research there is an over representation of youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system which eventually funnel into the adult correctional system.

The prevalence rates of youth with disabilities in juvenile facilities were compared to prevalence rates of adults with similar disabilities in the adult prison system. It was conclude through the calculations of both that it was more probable that juveniles would experience adult prisons.

The national dropout statistics are separated because of the fear that the statistics will become inflated which would have even more of a bad reflection as presently. Special education program does have its own national statistics but does not get much attention. Evidence found throughout this research does under cover the root problem to the high incarceration rates of youth with disabilities.

The current number of juvenile locked up today is 129,000 and continues to rise each year. The larger cities make up the high number of delinquents. I've learned that this presents a huge financial burden on the American economy and its citizens. It costs approximately $51,000 dollars to house a juvenile and an extra $11,000 if they have a disability. It cost the United States 8 billion dollars a year to incarcerate youth with disabilities.

A majority of the youth with disabilities suffer from low self-esteem, school failure, and conditions in which they cannot control such irritability, frigidness, or perceive bad judgment.

The root of the problem is that special education students are being treated differently despite No Child Left Behind Laws, IDEA(Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and Public Law 94-142 which guarantees individual free public education / individualized education program. [1] 

A simple empirical methodology was implemented to test the data for accuracy. The results reported that the information researched is correct and accurate. Youth with disabilities are over representative in the juvenile justice system and it is not their fault. The findings indicate that the entire system flawed due to politics, biasness, and the educational system. It found that the IEP diploma is some states were still considered dropout status.


Did you know that national high school dropout rates are not all inclusive? What this means is that statistics do not provide an accurate representation of total dropouts. The national statistics only represent statistics on regular education high school dropouts. The other populations of students that are not being included in the national high school dropout rates are special education students. The special education program has its own separate statistics which does not get much attention from the public. In my opinion, when something that should be included is excluded it creates a false statistic and disillusion.

Steve Lichtenstein conducted a study back in 1988 which concluded students with disabilities dropout rates exceeded the dropout rates of the general education students. [2] Maggie Monrad, from The National High School Center for AIR conducted research in 2007 which resulted with special education students being twice more likely to drop out of school and experience incarceration than general education students. [3] This just proves that the problem still exists and something must be done to correct it.

The purpose of this research is to show the impact of special education dropout statistics not being included in general education national statistics. The impact is a burden on the economy because the government & taxpayers are those responsible for paying incarceration costs. In addition, by separating the statistics, the problem is a never ending cycle and youth with disabilities aren't getting a fair representation. Many people are concerned that including youth with disabilities would cause inflation in the current statistics. In my opinion, if it's the only way to get attention to expose a problem then it's the right thing to do. According to the results of the research the current methods of special education are failing. We need to design fair educational curriculums and create better prevention strategies.

The question at issue for this research is how does the total percentage of dropouts for youth with disabilities impact the criminal justice system / economy? How will comparing the numbers to incarceration rates help to identify a solution? My hypothesis is youth with disability incarceration rate will exceed 50%.

Mary Sinclair of National Institution on Disability and Rehabilitation Research reported a 62% of youth with disabilities that dropped out are arrested. [4] It costs approximately $ 51,000 dollars to house a juvenile and an additional $ 11,000 to educate them if they have a disability. Approximately 129,000 youth with disabilities are incarcerated per year. It cost the government and taxpayers approximately 8 billion dollars per year ($62,000 x 129,000 youth disability) to incarcerate juveniles. The bigger problem is that many of these youth with continue a life of crime and transfer over to the adult system.

Director of Human Right Watch Carol Chodroff conducted research for many years. She concluded that punishing youth thorough juvenile detention centers make them worst because their minds are still in the development stage. [5] We could reinvest the money to help revive the recessive economy and provide better services for youth with disabilities. My theory is to include the special education dropout rates in regular statistics so that it becomes everyone's concern and problems can be addressed more appropriately. Youths and youths but special education youths are over representative in youth prisons.

Literature Review

Acknowledgement of dropout crisis

Miller (2009) acknowledges that dropout rates across the nation are alarmingly high. [6] The impact of such rates is a financial burden for the American economy. The dropout rate is directly related to America's competitiveness a global setting. The findings were based upon larger cities producing only 50% graduates each year. The schools that produce more than fifty percent of high school dropouts are considered as dropout factories.

Miller conducted research that comprised of collecting graduation and dropout data from 2000 schools. The article doesn't mention the method of research but with confidence it is quantitative research. In addition, could have involved stratified random sample that takes data and figure correct percentages for graduation and dropout rates.

This excerpt informs the fact that dropout rate is a problem. However, it does not mention anything about the special education population. In this case, overall dropout is a problem. In my opinion, special education should be a factor which it is currently not. This study may be accurate by it failed to identify the characteristics of those that dropout such special education students.

Incarcerated dropout youths with Disabilities

Quinn (2005) reports approximately 134,000 youth with disabilities are incarcerated in detention centers and corrections agencies. [7] Quinn conducted a random sample of juvenile correctional facilities across all 50 states. A total of 29 head management of state agencies out of 42 possible were survey (mailed) reported with a 76% response rate. The idea behind this model was to identify that most youths are incarcerated. In conclusion, 8,613 youths were eligible for special education services under IDEA. The prevalence rate for those states was in the range of 9.1% to 77.5% which averaged a total of 33%.

The theories that gave contribute over representation in the criminal justice system are the school failure theory, susceptibility theory, and meta-cognitive deficits. According to Hermitt, school failure is a student that fails socially or academically. [8] Exceptional Council for Children defines susceptibility theory as "impulsive, irritable, and failing to perceive actions that are considered as delinquent behavior". [9] According to Seeratan, meta- cognitive deficit means to have no self worth or very low self-esteem. [10] The data collection methods form of questionnaire in which the official provided information according to the institution records. This material was provided by the Council for Exceptional Children.

The goal of the article was to exemplify that incarcerated youths with disabilities is a huge problem. The author may have shown biasness by mentioning that differential treatment on behalf of the court is factor of incarceration. It sounds more like an opinion that is based upon what has been witnessed in the past.

How dropout rates are determine from special education students

Stump (2005) findings are although special education students have successfully completed all years of high school because they receive any IEP diploma, they are still classified as dropouts. [11] In addition, students that have enrolled in other special education programs but the information is not updated is also considered a dropout.

There is nothing scientific about this entry but does expose the fact of many ambiguities exists in the reporting of national statistics of high school dropouts. We have an identified problem of mainly people with special needs over representing prison population. There is a severe bias against people with special needs that consider IEP diplomas as a dropout, knowing they are unable to perform to the same levels as general student population.

How special dropout rates are calculated

The website is Office of Special Education Programs website. It has a standardized method for calculating special education dropout rates. The method is taking the total quantity of students that have dropped out, moved, or there where bouts are unknown and dividing the number by those those have graduated then multiplying that number times hundred. [12] The information is normally retrieved through the school's student record database.

Learning Disabilities

Nelson, Wolford, and Rutherford (1987) conducted a study that indicated learning disabilities were the cause of high school dropout. [13] Student with learning disabilities would get frustrated because he or she cannot handle the schoolwork. The result is they end up dropping out of school. Those later learned that they do not have the necessary skills to find a job and resort to criminal activity as a source of income.

Unemployment statistics are comparatively higher for high school dropouts. In addition, for those have learning disabilities that would prohibit them from performing on job are even worse off.

Dropout Weighs Heavy on the Economy

Alliance for Excellent Education (2006) provides a graphic illustration of the impact of high school dropout in unemployment rates. [14] A bar graph has been provided on how dropout affects the economy.

Graduate Blue 4.2% 4.6% 9.4% and Dropout Purple 6.8% 7.5% 15.4% unemployment rate.

It obvious that dropout does burden the economy. The government is either pays for the costs of juvenile incarceration or paying for unemployment benefits. We need all youth and including youth with disabilities to be productive citizens. All the information provided supports that fact

Youth with disabilities dropout extends beyond incarceration. It makes the community much more unsafe and a never ending financial burden on the economy.

Characteristics of Dropouts in Youth Correctional Facilities

The Coalition for Justice (2001) reported that youths incarcerated are either illiterate or marginally literate. [15] Most of the youths read below a fourth grade reading level and their math skills are very low. This is clear indication that these youth fall within some type of disability. Alternatives programs or increased intervention are needed in the schools.

Juveniles are likely to Reoffend

Sampson and Laub (2005) conducted a study on the probability of juveniles with disabilities reoffending and entering into the adult prison system. [16] They gauged the prevalence rates at the adult prisons and compared them to the prevalence rate of the juvenile system. According to website, "the definition of prevalence is the total number of cases of a disease in a given population at a specific time." [17] They concluded from the study that the juvenile with disabilities were more likely to offend and would end up in the adult prison system. The prevalence rate of youth with disabilities in juvenile corrections versus adult incarceration is listed in the methodology section of this proposal.

My concern questions the purpose of recording school dropout status when it is not included nation statistical reports. I will find the gap between special education dropouts to incarceration and also provide percentage that can be measured to general dropout populations.

Methodology - Quantitative

The research consists of empirical data collected from Southern Poverty Law Center's School to Prison Reform Project which reported (www: splcenter. org) [18] 

Seventy-three percent special education students (ages 14 -21 are arrested within five years of dropping out.

Only 35% graduate each year.

EPE Research Center reported US schools as consisting of ( [19] :

6 million students with disabilities in USA.

9 percent special education students are school age

1/3 of special students are at high school level


6,000,000 x .09 = 540,000 special education school age students

540,000 x .33(1/3) = 178,000 high school special education students

178,000 x .73= 129,940 are incarcerated within 5 year time period

1.29940 x 105

1.78000 x 105

Answer: Number incarcerated does check as accurate with 73%

Hypothesis: Proved accurate with over 50% incarcerated are youth with disabilities.

Sampson and Laub based juvenile recidivism on prevalence rates. Prevalence formula is listed below: [20] According to Adam Litak of The New York Times, there were 1.6 million incarcerated adults in adult prisons. [21] Monica Frolander-Ulf reported that 11% adult incarcerated have a learning disability. [22] The idea is to formulate a projection of whether the youth with disability offenders will reoffend in end up in the adult prison system.

Prevalence Rate = all new and pre-existing cases during a time period X 10ⁿ

population during the same time period

1,600,000 X 11% = 176,000 Incarcerated adult with disabilities

176,000 x 10ⁿ


There a total of 129,000 out of 178, 000 juveniles which in doing comparison of the numerators indicate that is more probable that the juvenile offender will reoffend and transfer over into the adult system.


The findings were commensurate with the hypothesis. Special education youths are definitely overrepresented in the criminal justice system. I learned that national dropout statistics are bias because they do not include special education dropout rates. If special education dropout rates were included the national average, they would much higher than reported. There is a big gap in what's reported and what is actually taking place. In my opinion, the problem of special education statistics not being publicized hinders our ability to seek an appropriate solution.

The American system, in essence, discriminates toward this population by considering IEP (special education) diplomas as dropout. These youth work so hard to achieve the prescribed diploma but are considered as dropouts. The statistical number were taken from varies governmental agencies in which were gathered for verification and testing. The numbers indicate a true epidemic is taking place.

The final conclusion is that special education dropout statistics are not included national statistics which means the statistics are bias. My opinion is, if the student is in the school system then he or she gets counted.

The evidence that has been presented supports my proposal of revamping the entire national reporting systems so that a true handle can be placed dropouts for youths with disabilities. In addition, revamp the entire curriculum for special education students. The NLBC(No Child Left Behind mandated legislation has actually left the special education students behind because they are expected to do the same level of work which most them are not capable of doing. Youth with disabilities incarceration will continue to increase and burden the community if we do nothing about it.