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New York State to Propose Changes to Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities

May 14th, 2012

Under a proposed change in graduation requirements for students with disabilities, a set of less-rigorous exams would be eliminated, but other options would be available for students to earn diplomas.  The State Education Department is recommending to the Board of Regents that the less-demanding Regents Competency Tests be phased out beginning with students who started ninth grade in 2011.

Advocates of the change say that there will still be a safety net for students with disabilities to earn a high school diploma.  While general education students, beginning this year, must score at least a 65 on five Regents exams in order to receive a Regents diploma, other options will be available for students with disabilities.

The first option is one currently available to students with disabilities: scoring between 55-64 on five Regents exams.  Students may also use a higher score to compensate for a lower one, or choose to replace the difficult Global History exam with an extra math or science Regents exam.  Any of these options would earn the student a local diploma, an option no longer available for general education students, who must earn Regents diplomas.

In announcing the change, State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said, “By moving to require all students to take Regents exams, the board committed many years to increased rigor in high school, but we want to make sure that we accommodate students’ particular disabilities,” according to the New York Times.

Students with disabilities who are currently sophomores, juniors or senior will still have the option of taking the Regency Competency Tests (RCTs), if they fail the more demanding Regents exams.  In order to earn a local diploma, a disabled student must pass six of the RCTs.

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs visit our website at

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