What’s “Special” About Graduation? Modified Content

The options and requirements for students with disabilities to earn a diploma in Texas are outlined in TAC §89.1070. The terms “modified curriculum” and “modified content” appear in several subsections. The impact of modifications to options available under the Foundation plan are highlighted below.

Foundation High School Program

TAC §89.1070 (b) A student entering Grade 9 in the 2014-2015 school year and thereafter who receives special education services may graduate and be awarded a regular high school diploma if the student meets one of the following conditions….

(2) The student has demonstrated mastery of the required state standards (or district standards if greater) in Chapters 110-118, 126-128, and 130 of this title and satisfactorily completed credit requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program specified in §74.12 of this title through courses, one or more of which contain modified curriculum that is aligned to the standards applicable to students in general education….

Endorsements

TAC §89.1070 (c) A student receiving special education services may earn an endorsement under §74.13 of this title (relating to Endorsements) if the student:

(1) satisfactorily completes the requirements for graduation under the Foundation High School Program specified in §74.12 of this title as well as the additional credit requirements in mathematics, science, and elective courses as specified in §74.13(e) of this title with or without modified curriculum;

(2) satisfactorily completes the courses required for the endorsement under §74.13(f) of this title without any modified curriculum….

TAC §89.1070 (e) In order for a student receiving special education services to use a course to satisfy both a requirement under the Foundation High School Program specified in §74.12 of this title and a requirement for an endorsement under §74.13 of this title, the student must satisfactorily complete the course without any modified curriculum.

Definition of Modifications

TAC §89.1070 (l) For purposes of this section, modified curriculum and modified content refer to any reduction of the amount or complexity of the required knowledge and skills in Chapters 110-118, 126-128, and 130 of this title. Substitutions that are specifically authorized in statute or rule must not be considered modified curriculum or modified content.

The requirements for a student to earn a diploma through Foundation High School Program are outlined in TAC §74.12. The requirements to earn an endorsement are outlined in TAC §74.13. The impact of modifications to a student’s eligibility to earn an endorsement is outlined in TAC §89.1070 (b)(2), (c), and (e), listed above. But what about Performance Acknowledgements and Distinguished Level of Achievement, as outlined in TAC §74.14 and TAC §74.11 (e)? Without a specific clarification in TAC §89.1070, ARD committees had to review the requirements as listed, without any allowance for modifications. However, this question was posed to TEA…….

Response from Curriculum Division at TEA (November 2018):

“There is nothing in the rules that would prohibit a student from earning the distinguished level of achievement due to modified instruction in Algebra 2; do be sure to note, however, that there are some limitations related to modified instruction and endorsements…and an endorsement is a requirement to earn the distinguished level of achievement.”

For more information about graduation options and requirements for students with disabilities in Texas, contact the Secondary Transition/Post-School Results network member for your ESC.

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