Press-Republican

Local News

April 13, 2014

Parent pushes diploma options

WILLSBORO — Willsboro resident Melinda Gay recognizes that college is probably not in the future for her son, Logan.

Instead, the 12-year-old will likely pursue a vocational path after high school. 

Still, Melinda believes Logan and other students who have disabilities deserve a shot at earning a high-school diploma, something that many employers require. 

But given the state’s current graduation requirements, she said, that will likely be impossible. 

“We’re setting those kids up for failure,” Melinda said. 

LIMITED OPTIONS

Until recently, as a student with a disability, Logan would have had the options of completing high school and either earning a local diploma by passing Regents Competency Tests or getting an Individualized Education Program diploma. 

Though the latter is not recognized by colleges or the military, Melinda said, students with such diplomas are recognized by potential employers as having graduated high school. 

However, the state phased out the Individualized Education Program diploma at the end of the 2012-13 school year, and students with disabilities who entered ninth grade in 2011 or later are not eligible to receive local diplomas via Regents Competency Tests.

Instead, such students must pass standard Regents exams — though with a lower score than general education students — in order to earn a local diploma. 

That’s something Melinda said her son likely won’t be able to do.

She fears that without a high-school diploma, Logan may miss out on jobs he where could have done well. 

“And I think that many other children are going to have the same issue,” Melinda said. 

‘ESSENTIAL TOOL’

The state made the changes in diploma requirements and shortly after, rolled out the Common Core curriculum, she noted, because it recognized that many students were graduating high school but weren’t adequately prepared for college. 

“I understand they’re wanting to better prepare our kids for college,” Melinda said. “I think that’s great.” 

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