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New York State Eases Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities

Published July 5, 2016

On June 14, 2016, the New York Board of Regents voted to ease the requirements for some special education students to earn high school diplomas, part of a series of changes designed to make it easier for students with disabilities to graduate.

New York schools offer two types of diploma. The new regulation concerns local diplomas, which are often earned by students with disabilities and are considered less rigorous than Regents diplomas. Students graduating with either can enter college or the military.

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Previously, provisions had been made to allow students with disabilities to earn a local diploma with lower test scores through an appeal process, or use a high score on one Regents exam to make up for a lower score on another exam.

Under the new rule, certain special education students will have their academic record automatically reviewed by district superintendents to determine whether they have shown proficiency in a sufficient number of subjects to earn a local diploma, even if they have not been able to pass three Regents exams.

The new rule goes into effect immediately, so students in the class of 2016 are eligible. However, the option is only available for special education students with an individualized education program (IEP), not Section 504 students. To be eligible, students still must pass the Regents exams in English/language arts and math, earn passing grades in all courses required for graduation, and take — not necessarily pass — the Regents exams in science, social studies and one other optional course.

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