Analysis of withdrawal reasons and mobility factors for Missouri's public school students with disabilities
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Special education students receive specialized instruction, yet they are dropping out twice as often as their nondisabled peers (Smink & Cash, 2006). Dropping out is not a sudden, impulsive decision. Withdrawal from school happens as a gradual process of disengagement or alienation that occurs over time. Dropping out is not a spur-of-the-moment decision; it is the end of a long process of disengagement (Rumberger, 2004). Young people who prematurely withdraw from school face a difficult future and may experience exclusion from education, training, employment, and society (Smink & Cash). Missouri public special education students are withdrawing or dropping out of school (Balfanz & Legters, 2004) and further investigation is needed. Currently in Missouri there is a lack of knowledge due to a lack of information as to the reasons for withdrawal from services in association with special education disability conditions and district size. Therefore, investigation was needed to discover why students with disabilities in Missouri were withdrawing from services and/or school before graduation. Explorations were needed to determine dropout factors and discover if size of school and disabling condition are compounding variables. The purpose of this study was to investigate public school special education student data sets collected by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Missouri DESE, DSE provided archival data from the academic year 2005 to inform this study. Quantitative analysis and descriptive statistics were utilized to describe, analyze, and summarize Missouri's special education withdrawal from services data. A factorial non-experimental research design was utilized to answer the research questions. The factors studied were: special education dropout, free and reduced lunch rate (9 -12), size of district, high school, 14-21 child count, dropout rate by labeling condition, age, gender, ethnicity, and district reported reason for the special education student withdrawal from services. Best practices literature for dropout prevention was additionally researched and reported. This study will inform Missouri DESE Division of Special Education (DSE) of the findings with regard to policy analysis and decision making concerning special education students withdrawal from special education services.
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