New CA High School Graduation Law for Students with Special Needs
According to California Education Code Section 51225.3, if your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires them to take the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) in grade eleven, then they will be eligible to participate in all graduation ceremonies provided that they complete the aligned coursework required by state law and their Local Educational Agency (LEA).
Students with special needs who take the CAAs and participate in graduation ceremonies will not receive a regular high school diploma. And this does not constitute a change in placement.
When a student with special needs attends graduation ceremonies, it will not impact the LEA’s requirement to provide them with FAPE until age 21.
What Are the CAAs?
The CAAs are an assessment alternative to the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, which measures annual improvement in mathematics and English language arts. In alignment with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments are given to all students in grades three through eight and grade eleven unless the student has an IEP that designates taking the CAAs.
The CAAs are designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities. They’re aligned using alternative achievement standards called the Core Content Connectors (CCCs). The CCCs are linked to the Common Core Standards but they’re modified to be less complex, focusing on the main academic content in each subject area.
How Does the New Law Affect Students Who Take the CAAs?
Students who take the CAAs in grade 11 are required to complete all coursework required by their IEP, the state governing board, and the governing body of their LEA.
To qualify for graduation ceremonies, the student’s coursework must include:
- Three courses in English
- Two courses in mathematics
- Two courses in science, including biological and physical science
- United States history and geography
- World history, culture, and geography
- American government and civics
- One course in performing arts or world languages
- Two courses in physical education, unless the student has been exempted
What Are the School District’s Responsibilities Under the New Law?
California Education Code Section 51225.3 is effective immediately. That means all public, charter, and private schools must allow students who take the CAAs in eleventh grade and meet the course requirements to attend all graduation ceremonies with their peers.
In the future, the IEP program team will be required to tell the parent or guardian whether their child will be eligible to graduate under Section 51225.3 before the student commences grade 10.
Is Your Child with Disabilities Getting the Services They Deserve?
Parents of children with disabilities have the right to request a written plan that spells out how the school will provide services to ensure equal access to education. If your child isn’t receiving the support they require, contact Woodsmall Law Group right away.
We serve children with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call (626) 440-0028 to schedule a FREE initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.