A Step Forward or a Step Back?: New Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities
The New York State Board of Regents passed certain revisions to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education yesterday, June 13, which will make it easier for students with disabilities to graduate with a local diploma. This new regulation applies to students who are otherwise eligible to graduate in June 2016 or later. Currently, there are certain "Safety Net Options" available for these students to earn a Local Diploma:
The Low Pass Rate Safety Net Option requires students to score between 55-64 on five required Regents exams.
The Low Pass Rate Safety Net Option with Appeal allows students who score up to three points below 55 on a Regents exam to appeal if all the conditions of appeal are met.
The Compensatory Safety Net Option allows a student with a disability to receive a local diploma if she sores between a 45-54 on one or more of the Regents exams required for graduation, other than English Language Arts (ELA) or math, but earns a 65 or higher on another Regents exam which can "compensate" for the lower score. In other words, you can average two scores.
The new amendment is intended for those students with disabilities (i.e. have a current IEP) who could not earn the Local Diploma even with the accommodations mentioned above. The school principal and superintendent are now required to review, document, and provide a written certification / assurance that there is evidence that the student has otherwise met the standards for graduation with a local high school diploma. There is a requirement of attaining a minimum score of 55 on both the ELA and math Regents Exams and a passing grade in each course. There will then be a review of "other documents of proficiency" when students cannot pass the other three required Regents exams.
Summary of Key Elements and Conditions:
This is an automatic review with the burden placed on the superintendent. This does not have to be formally requested by either the student or parent.
The Student must have a current IEP and be receiving special education and/or related services.
The student did not meet the requirements of the three safety net graduation options.
The student must have earned the required course credits and passed all courses required for graduation, including the Regents courses for ELA, math, social studies, and science.
The student must have minimum scores of 55 on both the ELA and math exams or a successful appeal of a score between 52-54.
There must be evidence that the student "has otherwise demonstrated graduation level proficiency in the subject area" in which he did not receive a "passing" grade (i.e. "must pass the course").
The student must "actively" participate in the exam required for graduation.
The school principal and superintendent must sign a document which describes the evidence reviewed and the decision made.
The superintendent must then certify that the information is accurate and attest that the student has met the graduation requirements.
The superintendent's decision is final.
The Commissioner will periodically audit the superintendent decisions.
In a future post, we'll discuss the implications of this new regulation and the Pros and Cons for students with disabilities.