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Absences Hurt Performance of Students With Disabilities, Report Finds

Absences from class were the most important factor in explaining why students with disabilities fail more classes and have lower grades than their peers without identified disabilities in Chicago public schools, according to a new report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.

"Once we take into account the fact that students with disabilities miss many more days of school, their course failures and grades are similar to those of students without disabilities," says the report.

Race, gender, socioeconomic status, age, and the types of schools students attend also explained part of the difference in academic performance. Self-reported study habits were not important in explaining the weaker course performance of students with disabilities, the report said.

Researchers looked at the freshman-year performance of special education students in Chicago to investigate whether grades, course failures, absences, and "on-track status" are useful for identifying students who are at risk of dropping out of school. The report also examined how academic behaviors, such as attendance and study habits, would affect academic performance.

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