Students with IEPs and Graduation

Students with Individualized Education Programs and Graduation Requirements 

To graduate with a regular diploma1, students in the classes of 2023 and beyond must follow a typical pathway to meet Ohio’s graduation requirements in addition to any requirements adopted by their district of residence for the student’s four-year graduation cohort. This includes earning all required credits, demonstrating competency, and earning two diploma seals. All students in Ohio can follow a typical pathway to graduation. However, students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may also graduate via other options based on the IEP team’s decision per Ohio Revised Code 3323.011 .

It is important that the IEP team carefully consider the use of these options so as not to lower expectations and limit student opportunities for post-school engagement.  The Students with IEPs Graduation Decision-Making Tool will assist an IEP Team to answer these two questions:

  1. Has the student with an IEP followed a typical pathway to meet graduation requirements?
  2. When must the student with an IEP exit secondary school?

Students with Individualized Education Programs Graduation Decision-Making Tool

The graduation requirement options based on IEP team decision are highlighted below within the context of the three main components of the graduation requirements.

1. Course Completion

Ohio law outlines the course requirements all students must complete to earn a diploma. Ohio students must earn a minimum of 20 course units in specified subject areas. Districts and schools may have requirements that exceed the state minimums outlined below.

General Course Requirements State Minimum
 English language arts 4 credits
 Health ½ credit
 Mathematics 4 credits
 Physical education ½ credit
 Science 3 credits
 Social studies 3 credits
 Electives 5 credits

Students must receive instruction in economics and financial literacy* (in high school) and complete at least two semesters of fine arts** (during grades 7-12). Beginning with students who enter 9th grade after July 1, 2022, students must receive instruction on the proper interactions with peace officers. This instruction is required to occur within at least one course required for high school graduation.

*Beginning with students who enter 9th grade after July 1, 2022, students will need ½ credit of financial literacy. 

**Fine arts may not be required for students in career-tech programs unless it is a component of local course requirements.

A student with a disability may meet curriculum requirements for graduation by completing the individualized education program as determined by the IEP team. This option is outlined in Ohio Revised Code 3313.61 (A)(1). It is recommended that this option is used only under the most unique circumstances in order to afford all students an opportunity to the services and supports needed to access and make progress within a rigorous curriculum in the least restrictive environment.

2. Demonstration of Competency

State law says that all students must take the Algebra I (or Integrated Math I) and English language arts II end-of-course tests or the mathematics and English language arts alternate assessments[1]. If a student does not obtain a “competency” score of 684 on the end-of-course exams or a score of Basic on the alternate assessments, the student must be offered and receive remedial support from the student’s district or school and retake the test(s) or assessment(s) for which they did not meet the required score. Students have several other options through which they can demonstrate competency beyond Ohio’s state tests or alternate assessments. If the student on an IEP still does not attain the required score, the IEP team may exempt the student from the requirement to demonstrate competency (on either end-of-course exams or alternate assessments) for the subject area not passed per Ohio Revised Code 3313.61 (L) or the student may choose from any other pathways to demonstrate competency.

It is recommended that the IEP team fully explore student participation in one of the four alternative demonstrations of competency prior to exemption from this component. This ensures that students have access to all options available to their typical peers that may increase opportunities for post-school engagement and success.

3. Demonstrating Readiness (Earning State Diploma Seals)

All students (Ohio Revised Code section 3313.6114) must demonstrate readiness for graduation by earning two of the 12 available diploma seals. One of the seals earned must be one of the nine state-defined seals. A student with an IEP is eligible to earn any seal through the same process as students without an IEP, with two exceptions for students who take the Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities. The specifics are outlined below.

Citizenship Seal

Students with an IEP who participate in the Ohio Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities may earn the seal by earning a score of Basic on the social studies alternate assessment.

Science Seal

Students with an IEP who participate in the Ohio Alternate Assessment for Students with the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities may earn the seal by earning a score of Basic on the science alternate assessment.

 1 There is one diploma in Ohio. Whichever pathway a student takes, they will still receive the same diploma. However, if the student does not follow the typical pathway, the state cannot count the student as a graduate in the Federal Special Education Graduation Rate.

Last Modified: 11/3/2023 2:05:42 PM