Examining the effects of state high school exit exam policies on selected outcomes of students with disabilities
Wilkinson, Tracy Gail
McLaughlin, Margaret J
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This study had several purposes. The first purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between selected student, family and school characteristics, and state exit exam policies and the impact on graduation from high school among a sample of students with disabilities. A second purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between attending high school in a state that has an exit exam policy and the academic rigor of the coursework, as measured by the highest math course completed, among a sample of students with disabilities. The last purpose of study was to investigate the contribution of attending high school in a state that has an exit exam policy and academic rigor in coursetaking on enrollment in postsecondary education among a sample of students with disabilities. Using binary and multinomial logistic regression, I analyzed data for roughly 1,000 students with disabilities in the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:02). The findings regarding the effects of state exit exam policies on the selected post-school outcomes of students with disabilities vary. I found that presence of a state exit exam requirement did not significantly predict receipt of a standard high school diploma for a student with a disability in the class of 2004, nor does the requirement predict enrollment in postsecondary education for a student meeting the same criteria. I also found that presence of a state exit exam requirement for the class of 2004 did predict completion of advanced math coursework for a student with a disability, though the same factor did not predict completion of middle academic math coursework for a student meeting the same criteria. Finally, I discuss the implications of these findings on policy and practice for students with disabilities, as well as for future research.