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  • NYS Education Department Proposed Amendment Modifies “Safety Net” for Students with Disabilities

    On June 4, 2012, the NYS Education proposed an amendment to section 100.5 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The amendment relates to the “safety net” for students with disabilities seeking to graduate with a local high school diploma.

    In general, a course of study involves class attendance, homework assignments, quizzes, tests, and other instructional activities. In many instances it also involves the taking of a State exam at the end of the course. A regents diploma may be awarded in recognition of a student’s passing with a score of 65 or higher for each of the five Regents Exams[1] specified in Section 100.5(a)(5) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

    Conversely, Regents Competency Tests (RCTs) are achievement tests designed to assess basic proficiency in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. General education students, however, are not eligible to take RCTs. The RCTs are available only for students with disabilities who first enter grade nine prior to the September 2011–2012 school year, as part of a safety net for such students. Students with disabilities are given this “safety net” in order to provide those students with the opportunity to earn a local diploma.  The “safety net” includes any student with a disability that earns a score between 55 and 64 on the RCTs

    The Board of Regents proposed regulations will allow students with disabilities, who first entered grade nine in September 2005 or thereafter, to earn a local high school diploma through a “compensatory option.” That is, the proposed amendment would expand the “safety net” options to authorize a school district to award a local diploma to a student with a disability if the student:

    1. scores between 45-54 on one or more of the five required Regents exams, other than the English or mathematics exam, but scores higher than 65 on one or more of the required Regents exams, in which case the lower score(s) can be compensated by the higher score(s); and
    2. obtains a passing score in the subject area of the Regents examination in which he or she received a score of 45-54;
    3. has an attendance rate of at least 95 percent for the school year during which the student took the Regents examination in which he or she received a score of 45-54, exclusive of excused absences; provided that
    4. a student may not use the compensatory score option if the student is using a passing score on one or more RCTs to graduate with a local diploma.

    If your institution has questions or concerns about this topic and you would like further information, please email Cynthia Augello at caugello@cullenanddykman.com or call her at (516) 357 – 3753.

    A special thanks to Sean Gajewski, a law clerk at Cullen and Dykman LLP, for helping with this post.

    [1] Regents Exams are achievement tests that are aligned withNew YorkState’s Learning Standards. Prepared by teacher examination committees and Department subject and testing specialists, Regents Exams provide schools with a basis for evaluating the quality of instruction and learning that have taken place. They are used by school personnel to identify major learning goals, offering both teachers and students a guide to important understandings, skills, and concepts.