April 27, 2020 | Blog, COVID-19, Graduation, Students

Class of 2020: Waiving Graduation Requirements

by Victoria Elliott

In the wake of COVID-19, many questions have arisen regarding graduation for the 2020 senior class.  During these times, it is important to remember that certain graduation requirements may be satisfied via an individual graduation committee (“IGC”) review:

  • Seniors who were enrolled in the district or charter school during the 2019–2020 school year may graduate via an IGC determination, regardless of the number of EOC exams they still need to pass.
  • In accordance with Texas Education Code (TEC) §28.0258, students must successfully complete the curriculum requirements for high school graduation as identified in Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 74, Subchapter B. Districts and charter schools must determine if a student has met all other graduation requirements under TEC, §28.025(c), including successful completion of all curriculum requirements or an individualized education program.
  • A student who is on schedule to complete graduation requirements in Spring 2020, but who does not have the opportunity to retake a STAAR EOC assessment prior to graduation, is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements, but will need to successfully complete the IGC process to be eligible to graduate.
  • A student who is on schedule to complete graduation requirements in Spring 2020 and was scheduled to take a required EOC for the first time in Spring 2020 is not required to pass that specific test to fulfill graduation requirements. An IGC is not needed in such circumstances.

Further, TEA has advised that other graduation requirements may be addressed via waivers or alternative means of completing requirements.  For example, districts can apply for waivers if seniors have not yet met the requirement of receiving hands-on instruction regarding CPR.  Districts also have the authority to determine when and how students demonstrate proficiency in speech.  Lastly, if a senior who entered grade 9 in 2018-2019 or later is graduating early and has not yet completed instruction in proper interaction with law enforcement, the student may meet this requirement by viewing the TEA video, Flashing Lights: Creating Safe Interactions between Citizens and Law Enforcement.

It is important for districts to know that parents must still provide written permission allowing students to graduate under the Foundation High School Program without earning an endorsement. However, there are multiple ways parents can provide this written permission, including the following:

  • Complete the FHSP Endorsement Opt-Out Agreement (available in English or Spanish), add an electronic signature, and return the form to the district via email.
  • Write the statement below, sign the statement, and either take and return a picture of the statement to the district by email or return the signed statement itself to the district by mail.
    • “I have received written notice regarding the benefits to my child of graduating from high school with one or more endorsements, and I grant permission for my child to graduate under the Foundation High School Program without earning an endorsement.”

Lastly, TEA has reiterated that while calculation of GPA and class ranking is a local decision and is not required, districts must continue to identify junior and senior students in the top 10% of their class for purposes of eligibility for automatic college admission to a Texas institution of higher education pursuant to TAC 61.1201. If a district chooses to modify the policy for calculation of GPA, care should be taken to ensure that any method for calculation of GPA and class rank is applied to all impacted students equitably. One option may be to calculate GPA and class rank for the first four six weeks of the school year only.

For additional guidance regarding graduation of seniors, please refer to TEA’s guidance for 2020 Seniors and Individual Graduation Committees.

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