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Graduation Guidance


Related Topics: Assessment | Transition


Graduation options for students with disabilities receiving special education services who entered grade 9 beginning with the 2011-2012 school year

Graduation options for students with disabilities receiving special education services who entered grade 9 before the 2011-2012 school year

There are four ways in which a student receiving special education services, who entered grade 9 before the 2011-2012 school year, may graduate from high school and receive a regular high school diploma. When a student receiving special education has satisfactorily completed minimum credit and curriculum requirements applicable to students in general education, as specified in 19 TAC Chapter 74, and passed the exit-level assessment, the student can graduate and receive a high school diploma under the recommended or distinguished graduation programs outlined in 19 TAC Chapter 74 [see 19 TAC § 89.1070(b)(1)].  

A student can also graduate under the minimum graduation program upon satisfactorily completing the minimum credit and curriculum requirements for students in general education and participating in required assessments. The student’s ARD committee must determine whether satisfactory performance on a required assessment shall also be required for graduation [see 19 TAC § 89.1070(b)(2)]. It should be noted that courses with modified content apply to the minimum high school program only and cannot be counted toward the recommended or distinguished programs (see Section 1.4(a) in the 2009-2010 Minimum Standards for the AAR).

In addition, a student can graduate by completing the minimum credit requirements for students in general education, completing the minimum curriculum requirements to the extent possible as determined by the ARD committee, and completing the requirements of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) including one of the following conditions outlined in the IEP:

  • full-time employment and sufficient self-help skills to maintain employment without direct and ongoing support from the school district;
  • demonstration of specific employability and self-help skills that do not require direct ongoing support from the school district; or
  • access to services that are not within the legal responsibility of public education or to employment or educational options for which the student has been prepared by the academic program [see 19 TAC § 89.1070(c)]. 

Finally, a student receiving special education services may also graduate and receive a regular high school diploma upon the ARD committee’s determining that the student no longer meets age eligibility requirements and has completed the requirements specified in the IEP [see 19 TAC §89.1070(d)].

Students receiving special education services are no longer permitted to be exempted from the state assessment program and must take the assessment instrument that the ARD committee has determined is appropriate. Information regarding the state assessment instrument and the alternate assessment instruments is available on the TEA website at assessment guidance.

A student who is dismissed from special education services must perform satisfactorily on general assessments (i.e., Exit-Level TAKS or STAAR®), as only students receiving special education are eligible to participate in alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAS) or alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAS), AA-MAS and AA-AAS include TAKS-Modified, STAAR® Modified, and STAAR® Alternate. ARD committees should have confidence that a student who is dismissed from special education will be able to successfully complete all of the requirements for high school graduation, including satisfactory performance on exit-level assessments. Students who passed accommodated tests while enrolled in a district Special Education program have met the exit-level requirement because an accommodated test is equivalent to a general assessment. 


State Guidance

State Resources


Statewide High School Transition Network 


Related Requirements in Rules and Regulations

Texas Education Code (state law)

Texas Administrative Code (State Board of Education and Commissioner's Rules)

Technical Assistance and Training

Student Assessment Division Email Contacts

If you have questions concerning the state assessment program, please view the Student Assessment Division's list of contacts according to specific subject area. Please search carefully for the closest area to your particular question as that will affect the timeliness of the answer. If your question is urgent, please contact the division directly by phone at (512) 463-9536.


 Education Service Centers (First Points of Contact for Technical Assistance and Training)

For technical assistance and training in regard to assessing students with disabilities and other aspects of the provision of services for students with disabilities, contact your regional education service center.


The Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Special Education Process

The Legal Framework is a template in an electronic format that summarizes state and federal requirements for special education by topic for parents and educators. A framework addressing Graduation has been developed.


Division of Federal and State Education Policy

1701 North Congress Avenue | Austin, Texas 78701-1494

Telephone: 512.463.9414 | Fax: 512.463.9560




Page last modified on 5/21/2014 05:56:24 PM.