High School Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities

Martha L. Thurlow, James E Ysseldyke, Cheryl L. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although increasing the high school graduation rate is now a national goal, requirements for graduation are not set at the national level. And, although the goal is said to include students in special education programs, what high school graduation means for these students is not clear. We collected documentation from state departments of education to examine high school graduation requirements for students in general, and for students with disabilities. Forty-four states use Carnegie course unit requirements ranging from 10.35 to 24.00 credits. Seventeen states currently have requirements for either a minimum competency test or an exit exam. Local education agencies in several states have the option of establishing more stringent requirements than called for in state guidelines. Exit documents that are awarded to students with disabilities (e.g., standard diplomas, modified diplomas, certificates of attendance) also vary from state to state, with similar requirements sometimes earning different types of exit documents in different states. These inconsistencies in graduation requirements and their implications for students with learning disabilities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

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