Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Meaningful Diplomas for All Students

Wednesday, November 13, 2013Printer-friendly version

The call to ensure that every student, including students with disabilities, graduates from high school well prepared for college and careers is acknowledged by policymakers, professionals and business leaders.  All students deserve access to the academic skills they need so that they can make their own career decisions. They should not have those decisions made for them because they did not have the academic preparation they needed or, worse, left high school with a diploma believing they had been prepared. Yet, the extent to which states require students to complete a college- and career-ready course of study for a high school diploma varies a great deal across the nation. It is critical that state policies and practices encourage students with disabilities to meet the college- and career-ready standards needed to attain the state’s standard diploma - and that states align the standard diploma with college- and career-ready expectations. 

This policy brief was developed through a partnership with the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota and Achieve to provide guidance to state education policy leaders to support the goal of ensuring that students with disabilities leave school with meaningful diplomas by providing background on the diverse characteristics of students with disabilities and their high school and postsecondary attainment, by exploring the policy landscape across states and by providing recommendations to states about how to improve current approaches to high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities and promote the successful completion of these students with the knowledge and skills to be college and career ready.