Graduation Guidance

This page provides information and rules about graduation requirements for students with disabilities who receive special education services.

The links below list specific rules for graduation depending on when the student entered ninth grade:

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

Students who entered the ninth grade prior to 2014-2015 may graduate and receive a high school diploma when one of the four conditions below is met.

  1. The student completes minimum credit and curriculum requirements applicable to students in general education, as specified in 19 TAC Chapter 74, and passes the exit-level assessment (19 TAC § 89.1070(b)(1)).
  2. The student completes minimum credit and curriculum requirements for students in general education and participates in required assessments. The student’s admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committee must determine whether satisfactory performance on required assessments is required for graduation (19 TAC § 89.1070(b)(2)). Note that courses with modified content apply to the minimum high school program only and cannot be counted toward the recommended or distinguished programs.
  3. The student completes:
    • Minimum credit requirements for students in general education;
    • Minimum curriculum requirements to the extent possible, as determined by the ARD committee; and
    • Requirements specified in 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.
  4. The student no longer meets age eligibility requirements and has completed the requirements specified in the IEP (19 TAC §89.1070(d)). 

Performance on Required State Assessments

A student who is dismissed from special education services before graduation from high school must perform satisfactorily on general assessments (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. 

Participation of Students with Disabilities in Graduation Ceremonies

Students with disabilities may participate in a graduation ceremony after completing four years of high school (TEC § 28.025 (f))

 State Resources

The following are some state resources about graduation: 

    Texas Education Code and Texas Administrative Codes

    The following Texas Education Code (state law) and Texas Administrative Codes (State Board of Education and Commissioner's Rules) are about graduation:

    Technical Assistance and Training  

    The following areas provide technical assistance or training about graduation:

    • Student Assessment Division Email Contacts: You may search the Student Assessment Division's list of contacts by specific subject area. Carefully selecting the contact may impact the timeliness of a response. If your question is urgent, please contact the division directly by phone at (512) 463-9536. 
    • The Legal Framework for the Child-Centered Special Education Process: Parents and educators can find useful information by topic at the Texas Legal Framework. A framework addressing a Personal Gradation Plan may be helpful as you research this topic.