It is important that every student that is preparing to graduate from high school be college and career ready. The National Center on Educational Outcomes in collaboration with Achieve released a report titled Graduation Requirements for Students with Disabilities: Ensuring Meaningful Diplomas for All Students which emphasizes the need for students with disabilities to be held to high standards for earning a state’s standard diploma, an objective that requires courses that will better prepare them to enter the postsecondary and employment world.
The report states that in 2018, 63% of all U.S. jobs will require some postsecondary education and that 90% of new jobs in growing industries will require some postsecondary education as well. This poses a particular challenge for students with disabilities as college and career ready course studies vary across the nation dependent upon the state. Some states have different methods for how they incorporate students with disabilities through accommodations, special pathways, or diplomas, but as some states are providing meaningful diplomas, others are not. It will be critical for states to encourage students with disabilities to meet the college and career ready standards needed to attain their state’s standard diploma, the report concludes.
Achieving these standards is possible, as the report explains. “The vast majority of students with disabilities can be held to the same achievement standards as other students.” However, these students will need the proper accommodations to accomplish this. Currently, 80% to 90% of students with disabilities are able to meet graduation standards that are also held at the same credence as students without disabilities with the right support systems in place, leaving a small percentage of students with disabilities that must meet different achievement standards altogether. And although the rates are still lower than those students without disabilities, far more students with disabilities are enrolling in postsecondary education than ever before!
From the report, a set of recommendations designed to assist state leaders in making sure students with disabilities meet their diploma requirements include:
- Setting High College and Career Expectations and Clear Goals for Students with Disabilities;
- Limiting the Number of Diploma Options Available to Students with Disabilities;
- Identifying Multiple, Equally Rigorous Paths to Earning a Standard Diploma for Students with Disabilities;
- Identifying Appropriate Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options for Students with Disabilities; and
- Researching the Impact of State Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options on Student Outcomes.