Board of Regents extends special education safety net

Certain students with disabilities will be allowed to graduate  without passing all required Regents exams

During its June 2016 meeting, the New York State Board of Regents approved an emergency action that will allow certain students with disabilities to graduate with a Local Diploma after their school superintendents review their coursework and certify the students have met minimum requirements.

This new graduation pathway (dubbed “Superintendent Determination Pathway”) goes into effect on June 20, 2016. The Board of Regents estimates that 1,300 students who wouldn’t otherwise meet graduation requirements will be eligible to earn their diplomas under the new process. An additional 900 students with disabilities who are in their fifth and sixth years of high school may also qualify.

This new pathway applies to students with disabilities who:
• Currently have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and are receiving special education services;
• Have not met graduation requirements under other safety net options (i.e., the “low pass” safety net option or the “compensatory” safety net option);
• Scored at least 55 on the English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics Regents exams or successfully appealed a score of 52 to 54;
• Are unable to demonstrate their proficiency on standard state assessments due to their disabilities;
• Have earned required course credits and passed all courses required for graduation, including the Regents courses that correspond with Regents exam areas (ELA, math, social studies and science);
• Can demonstrate graduation-level proficiency of the state’s learning standards in the subject area(s) where they were unable to pass Regents exams.

In these cases, the school district superintendent will be required to conduct a review to ensure the affected students with disabilities have met the required academic standards to earn a Local Diploma under this new graduation pathway. This is an automatic process; students or parents do not have to make a formal request. School principals and superintendents must sign a document prescribed by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) commissioner that describes the evidence reviewed and the decision rendered by the superintendent and the students and their parents must receive a copy of this documentation. If a student does not meet the requirements, the documentation must note that the student can continue to attend school until the end of the school year when he/she turns 21. A copy of the form must be included in students’ academic records and submitted to NYSED no later than August 31 of the year the affected students graduate.

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