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Portland area schools fall below state targets for students with special needs

Special education students in Portland area school districts are graduating in numbers far below state targets, reports released by the Oregon Department of Education show.

Portland Public Schools, which has 7,009 special education students, saw only 59% of those students graduate in the 2018-19 school year, compared with a state target of 84%.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A Lake Oswego teacher works on syllables with her second grade interventin group. A report issued by the Oregon Department of Education shows the number of special education students who graduate on time is falling below state targets. Another goal of special education programs is to get as many students into general classrooms as possible.

Portland had a little more than 81% of these students in regular classrooms for at least 80% of the school day, exceeding the state target of 73%, in the 2018-19 school year. Slightly more than 7% of PPS special ed students were in separate classrooms for at least 60% of the day, again, better than the state target of 10.6%.

The number of students in the state's largest district with special education plans (IEPs) generally met targets in English language arts achievement, but lagged slightly in math, especially in high school.

Portland Schools does better than expectations for plans for life after high school for special education students. Some 46% of students with IEPs went on to higher education, compared with the state target of 31%. And, 59% of Portland's IEP students were either enrolled in higher education or working after leaving school, besting the state target of 55%.

Reynolds School District, had the second largest number of special education students in Multnomah County, serving 1,700 students in the 2018-19 school year.

Reynolds lags state targets in many measures for its special education students. Only 55% of Reynolds students with special needs were in regular classrooms, compared with the state target of 73%.

All age groups of special education students in Reynolds schools lagged state targets for achievement in both math and language arts. The target for math in high school is 32% meeting achievement standards and fewer than 5% of Reynolds high schoolers hit the achievement benchmarks.

The state wants 84% of special education students to graduate from high school in four years, but at Reynolds only 55% did.

Nearby Gresham-Barlow School District served 1,430 special education students in the 2018-19 school year, and also was shy of some of the state targets.

Gresham-Barlow had 63% of its special education students in a regular classroom for at least 80% of the day, compared to the state target of 73%.

The students with IEPs in the district also lagged in meeting the targets for achievement in math and English language arts.

In the 2018-19 school year, 56% of Gresham-Barlow's special education students graduated in four years, 28 percentage points short of the target. But 41% of these graduated enrolled in higher education, exceeding the state goal of 31%.

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