In New York State in 2007, 31% and 34% of special education students passed the English and Math Regents Examinations respectively. A Regents diploma is not a graduation requirement for students classified with learning disabilities, who can graduate by passing the Regents Competency Tests (RCT) or meeting the requirements of their individualized education plan (IEP).
I’m not an expert—or even knowledgeable at all—about how to set achievement benchmarks for special education students, but it’s obvious that a new $75+ million special education data system just purchased by the city will help get educators and advocates on the same page regarding student learning plans. I like to think that the transparency of a data system that allows for analysis of how well teachers, schools, and programs are doing with special education students will work to forestall a slippery slope of lower and lower expectations for students from whom less is already expected. The fear is that a greater focus on numbers will incentivise re-classifying under-achieving students downward on the special education scale rather than challenging them to achieve their best.