Linda Jukes

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Carol S. Parke

Committee Member

Jarol DeVoge

Committee Member

Jean R. Higgins


drop out, special ed


The purpose of this study was to examine graduation rates of students with disabilities and factors that may have affected those rates. More specifically, this study compared intermediate unit and county-level data for students with disabilities in districts in 10 counties of Pennsylvania. Correlations were examined between the graduation rates of the students with disabilities in these counties and socioeconomic factors of poverty rate, median household income, and the percentage of students in the counties who were economically disadvantaged. In addition, graduation rates of students with disabilities for these same counties were examined in comparison to the results of their 11th grade PSSA scores. Finally, student specific data was examined for those students with disabilities of specific learning disability, emotional disturbance, mental retardation, and autism. This examination focused on relationships between their graduation status and the factors of disability, type of service, type of support, and least restrictive environment. The specific group of participants included in this study included those students with disabilities in 10 counties of Pennsylvania who started 9th grade in 2001-2002 and completed their education four years later. The findings of the study indicated that the 10 counties chosen were statistically similar in their socioeconomic status as well as their graduation rates. In addition, the rate at which students with disabilities scored in the proficient or advanced levels of the PSSA were also statistically similar throughout the 10 counties. Of the four factors examined (disability, type of service, type of support, and least restrictive environment), students with specific learning disabilities educated through itinerant or resource services in learning support programs were most likely to graduate. The least restrictive environment did not make a significant difference in the graduation rates. However, even with the significant results found in the study, students with disabilities were more likely to have slightly lower graduation rates than their non-disabled peers.