Special education exceeding state standards

By Jonathan Delozier - jdelozier@aimmediamidwest.com

Special education in the Wellington Schools has exceeded several state standards over the past year, according to the district’s most recent Ohio Department of Education profile.

While special education does not have its own section in the recently released state report cards, on which Wellington received an overall D grade, results do factor into categories including graduation rate, achievement, and gap closing.

Seventy-two percent of three- and four-year olds in the district who are eligible for special education have enrolled in the Wellington Schools, surpassing a 52 percent state benchmark.

Only 12 percent of the same age group are sent to a separate facility such as the Murray Ridge School for more comprehensive special education, far-below the state’s 38 percent standard.

Still, Wellington can’t help every child without assistance from other local agencies.

“When you’re a small school system, you can’t afford to run every program,” said district superintendent Ed Weber. “You have to pay for them to be done by someone like the Educational Service Center of Lorain County or Murray Ridge. We just don’t have a way to support certain programs internally or the quantity of students to run certain programs.”

A total of 165 special education students across all age groups are enrolled in the Wellington Schools, with 99 percent of them meeting expected participation rates in both reading and math. That narrowly exceeds a 97.5 percent state benchmark.

Students’ 34.5 percent reading proficiency rate was better than the state standard of 24 percent, but math results (28.4 percent) narrowly missed a 28.6 percent target.

Seventy percent of all special education students attend class with non-special education students, better than the 64 percent state expectation.

Ten percent attend separate classes but remain in Wellington school buildings, just below a 10.5 percent standard.

The rate of all students attending separate facilities like Murray Ridge (7.69 percent) nearly doubled the state’s four percent benchmark.

“We’re doing a good job of getting kids into the mainstream classrooms,” Weber said. “We have several students in separate facilities because of things the parents want or, again, just not having enough students to support that sort of desire or need.”

One-hundred percent of special education students are adequately prepared for the transition between middle school and high school, the state profile says.

Just over 19 percent drop out before high school graduation, better than the state’s 22 percent expectation. However, a 70 percent high school graduation rate does not meet an 83 percent standard.

“More support is needed to keep these students on track for graduation,” Weber said. “We’re meeting the overall graduation requirement but not for special education students. Dropout has not been as big of an issue for us as making sure that all of the requirements for graduation are being met.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier