Graduation, cap and diploma (253343)
Graduation, cap and diploma Credit: Maxpixel

Monday, the New York State Board of Regents adopted new regulations for students with disabilities that allows them to graduate without passing state exams.

More disabled students, with new expanded criteria, may be eligible to graduate high school with a local diploma through an amended “superintendent determination” option starting in January 2018. The new regulations install “safety net” options for students to graduate with a local diploma who can’t show proficiency on standard state tests even with modified accommodations.

Before today’s announcement, regulations required students to score at least a 55 on the English language arts and math regents exams or successfully appeal a score between 52 and 54 to be considered for a superintendent determination.

These students won’t get a New York State Regents diploma, but the local diploma is accepted by colleges.

“This major step will unlock a world of opportunity for kids whose potential has been stymied by an unyielding bureaucracy,” said New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky in an emailed statement to the AmNews. “I have met with far too many students who demonstrate a clear ability to succeed on the next level, but have been unfairly prevented from receiving a diploma. Some of these students may go on to change the world and I look forward to seeing what they will achieve.”

In 2015, Kaminsky wrote a letter to New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, pleading with her to provide disabled students with developmental and learning disabilities more high school diploma options.

“Under our current system, far too many students will be shut out of achieving a recognized high school diploma, which is simply unacceptable,” wrote Kaminsky in 2015. Monday, Elia said that the board’s amendments don’t change their standards.

“The rules adopted today by the Board of Regents maintain the rigor of our graduation requirements, while providing a new mechanism for students with disabilities to demonstrate they’ve met the state’s graduation standards,” said Elia in a statement.

The board’s amended regulations now allow students to seek a superintendent determination via completing the requirements of the New York State Career Developmental and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential, even if they passed their English language arts and math regents-level courses but couldn’t achieve the minimum score on the exams.