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GRADUATION

GRADUATION

Authorities: 34 CFR Part 300; Texas Education Code; Texas Family Code; 19 TAC Chapters 74, 89, and 101; House Bill 3
 
 
 
  FEDERAL AND STATE REQUIREMENTS
Except as specifically provided as follows, graduation with a regular high school diploma terminates a child's eligibility for special education services and: 
  • Constitutes a change of placement and requires compliance with the PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE framework.
Employability and self-help skills are those skills directly related to the preparation of children for employment, including general skills necessary to obtain or retain employment.
Modified curriculum and modified content refer to any reduction of the amount or complexity of the required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. 
Substitutions that are specifically authorized in statute or rule must not be considered modified curriculum or modified content.
 
FOUNDATION HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM
A child entering grade 9 in the 2014-15 school year and thereafter who receives special education services may graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child meets the following criteria:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the required state standards or local education agency (LEA) standards if they are greater; 
  • Satisfactorily completes the credit requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program; and 
  • Achieves satisfactory performance on the required end-of-course assessment instruments.
A child entering grade 9 in the 2014-15 school year and thereafter who receives special education services may also graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child meets the following criteria:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the required state standards or LEA standards if they are greater;
  • Satisfactorily completes the credit requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program; but

  • The child's admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee has determined that satisfactory performance on the required end-of-course assessment instruments is not necessary for graduation.
A child entering grade 9 in the 2014-15 school year and thereafter who receives special education services may also graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child meets the following criteria:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the required state standards or LEA standards if they are greater;
  • Satisfactorily completes the credit requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program through courses, one or more of which contain modified curriculum that is aligned to the standards applicable to general education;
  • Achieves satisfactory performance on the required end-of-course assessment instruments, unless the child's ARD committee has determined that satisfactory performance on the required end-of-course assessment instruments is not necessary for graduation; and
  • Successfully completes the individualized education program (IEP) and meets one of the following conditions:
    • Consistent with the IEP, has obtained full-time employment, based on the child's abilities and local employment opportunities, in addition to mastering sufficient self-help skills to enable the child to maintain the employment without direct and ongoing educational support of the LEA;
    • Consistent with the IEP, has demonstrated mastery of specific employability skills and self-help skills that do not require direct ongoing educational support of the LEA;
    • Has access to services that are not within the legal responsibility of public education or employment or educational options for which the child has been prepared by the academic program; or
    • No longer meets age eligibility requirements.
A child receiving special education services may earn an endorsement by:
  • Satisfactorily completing, with or without modification of the curriculum:
    • The curriculum requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program;
    • The additional credit requirements in mathematics, science, and elective courses; and 
  • Satisfactorily completing the courses required for that endorsement:
    • Without modification of the curriculum for those courses; or
    • With modification of the curriculum for those courses, provided that the curriculum as modified, is sufficiently rigorous as determined by the child's ARD committee.
  • The ARD committee of a child in a special education program will determine whether the child is required to achieve satisfactory performance on an end-of-course assessment instrument to earn an endorsement on the child's transcript.
A child who is classified in grade 11 or 12 who has taken each of the required state assessments but failed to achieve satisfactory performance on no more than two of the assessments is eligible to receive an endorsement if the child meets the other requirements for an endorsement.
 
TRANSITION TO THE FOUNDATION HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN WHO ENTERED GRADE 9 BEFORE THE 2014-15 SCHOOL YEAR
A child receiving special education services who entered grade 9 before the 2014-15 school year may graduate and be awarded a high school diploma under the Foundation High School Program, if the child's ARD committee determines that the child should take courses under that program and the child satisfies the requirements of that program. 
A child transitioning to the Foundation High School Program may earn an endorsement if the child meets the requirements for an endorsement.
A child transitioning to the Foundation High School Program who is classified in grade 11 or 12 who has taken each of the required state assessments but failed to achieve satisfactory performance on no more than two of the assessments may graduate if the child has satisfied all other applicable graduation requirements.
 
SUBSTITUTIONS UNDER THE FOUNDATION HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM
A child, who due to a disability, is unable to complete two credits in the same language in a language-other-than-English (LOTE), may substitute a combination of two credits from English language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies or two credits in career and technical education, technology applications, or other academic electives for the LOTE credit requirements if the ARD committee determines that the child is unable to complete the LOTE credit requirements.
A child who is unable to participate in physical activity due to a disability or illness may substitute one credit in English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, a locally-designed course that meets the state criteria for substitution under state law, or one academic credit elective for the physical education (PE) credit requirement if the ARD committee determines that the child is unable to participate in physical activity.
A credit allowed to be substituted for LOTE or PE credit may not be used to satisfy any other graduation credit requirement.
 
DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT, RECOMMENDED, AND MINIMUM HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS
A child receiving special education services who entered grade 9 before the 2014-15 school year may graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the state standards or LEA standards if they are greater;
  • Satisfactorily completes credit requirements for graduation, under the recommended or distinguished achievement high school programs; and 
  • Achieves satisfactory performance on the required state assessments.
A child who is classified in grade 11 or 12 who has taken each of the required state assessments but failed to achieve satisfactory performance on no more than two of the assessments is eligible to graduate under the recommended or distinguished achievement high school program if the child meets all other applicable graduation requirements.
A child receiving special education services who entered grade 9 before the 2014-15 school year may also graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the state standards or LEA standards if they are greater;
  • Satisfactorily completes credit requirements for graduation, under the minimum high school program; and
  • Participates in or satisfactorily performs on the required state assessments, as determined by the ARD committee.
A child receiving special education services who entered grade 9 before the 2014-15 school year may also graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the child:
  • Demonstrates mastery of the state standards or LEA standards if they are greater through courses, one or more of which contain modified content that is aligned to the standards required under the minimum high school program;
  • Satisfactorily completes credit requirements under the minimum high school program;
  • Participates in or satisfactorily performs on the required state assessments, as determined by the ARD committee; and
  • Successfully completes the IEP and meets one of the following conditions:
    • Consistent with the IEP, has obtained full-time employment, based on the child's abilities and local employment opportunities, in addition to mastering sufficient self-help skills to enable the child to maintain the employment without direct and ongoing educational support of the LEA;
    • Consistent with the IEP, has demonstrated mastery of specific employability skills and self-help skills that do not require direct ongoing educational support of the LEA; 
    • Has access to services that are not within the legal responsibility of public education or employment or educational options for which the child has been prepared by the academic program; or
    • No longer meets age eligibility requirements.
 
CHILDREN ELIGIBLE TO RETURN TO SCHOOL AFTER GRADUATING 

A child who meets the AGE RANGE FOR ELIGIBILITY may return to school as long as the child was awarded a diploma that met the following conditions:

  • The child was required to successfully complete the child's IEP; and
  • The child was required to:
    • Obtain full-time employment, based on the child's abilities and local employment opportunities, in addition to mastering sufficient self-help skills to enable the child to maintain the employment without direct and ongoing educational support of the LEA;
    • Demonstrate mastery of specific employability skills and self-help skills that do not require direct ongoing educational support of the LEA; or
    • Have access to services that were not within the legal responsibility of public education or employment or educational options for which the child has been prepared by the academic program.
The ARD committee must determine the needed educational services upon the request of the child or parent to resume services.
 
CERTIFICATES OF ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION IN GRADUATION CEREMONIES
The LEA must issue a certificate of attendance to the child who has completed four years of high school but has not completed the IEP.
The LEA must allow the child who receives a certificate of attendance to participate in a graduation ceremony with children receiving high school diplomas.
The child may participate in only one graduation ceremony to receive a certificate of attendance.
The child who receives a certificate of attendance is not prevented from receiving a diploma if the child completes the IEP.
 
FINANCIAL AID APPLICATION REQUIREMENT
Beginning with children enrolled in grade 12 during the 2021-22 school year:
  • Before graduating from high school, each child must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TAFSA).
  • The child is not required to submit the FAFSA or the TAFSA if:
    • The child's parent or other person standing in parental relation submits a signed form indicating that the parent or other person authorizes the child to decline to complete and submit the financial aid application;
    • The child signs and submits the form on the child's own behalf if the child is 18 years of age or older or the child's disabilities of minority have been removed for general purposes; or
    • A school counselor authorizes the child to decline to complete and submit the financial aid application for good cause, as determined by the school counselor.
  • The LEA must adopt a form to be used for purposes of documenting the waiver to submit the FAFSA or TASFA, and the form must be:
    • Approved by the Texas Education Agency; and
    • Made available in English, Spanish, and any other language spoken by a majority of the children enrolled in a bilingual education or special language program in the district or school.
  • If a school counselor notifies an LEA whether a child has complied with the financial aid application requirement, the school counselor may only indicate whether the child has complied with this section and may not indicate the manner in which the child complied.
  Last Updated : Mon, Nov 28, 2022