Graduation

Graduation requirements

All students in New York state must earn 44 credits and pass five Regents exams with a score of at least 65 to graduate. Each semester-long course is worth one credit. Some specialized and alternative schools have additional requirements, as does the Advanced Regents diploma.

 

Regents diploma

Advanced Regents diploma

8 English (R)

8 English (R)

8 Social Studies (1R)*

8 Social Studies (1R)*

6 Science (R)*

6 Science (2R)*

6 Math (R)*

6 Math (3R)*

2 Foreign Language

6 Foreign Language **(LOTE)*

1 Health Education

1 Health Education

4 Physical Education

4 Physical Education

2 Art, Music, Dance or Theater

2 Art, Music, Dance or Theater

7 elective courses 3 elective course

 

 

 *(R) Regents exam required; (2R) two Regents exams required; (3R) three Regents exams required; (LOTE) Language Other Than English exam.
** Students completing and Arts or CTE endorsed Advanced Regents diploma and students with IEPs that indicate their disability affects the ability to learn a language are not required to take the LOTE.

Local diploma

In the past, New York City offered a local diploma for students who were unable to complete the requirements for a Regents diploma. For those entering 9th grade after 2008, the local diploma has been eliminated except for certain students receiving special education services.

Regents diploma

Students must pass five Regents exams: English, math, history (global or U.S. History) and science and one additional exam. Other assessments approved by the New York State Education Department may fulfill the fifth exam requirement.

  Advanced Regents diploma

To earn an Advanced Regents diploma, students take additional credits in a foreign language, pass two Regents exam in science (living environment plus one of the following: earth science, chemistry or physics), and pass three Regents exam in math. An Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors may be issued to students who receive an average of 90 percent or more on all Regents exams. Adjustments are made for students taking a sequence in career and technical education or the arts.

How to appeal to graduate with a failing Regents exam score

Students who fail to pass a Regents exam may appeal to graduate with a lower score if they score within five points of 65 (between a 60 and 64) percent and have met the following criteria:

  • Took the Regents exam in question at least twice and earned a score of 60 to 64 on at least of the those Regents exams
  • Earned a passing course grade at school in the subject under appeal
  • Took advantage of academic help provided by the school in the subject
  • Be recommended for an exemption to the graduation requirement by their teacher or department chairperson in the same subject as the Regents exam they are appealing

An English language learners (ELL) who first enrolled in a New York school in 9th grade or later and is officially identified as an ELL at the time of the exam may appeal her score on the English Language Arts (ELA) Regents exam if she scores between a 55 and 64. An ELL student who appeal his ELA Regents score may appeal one more Regents exam score in any other subject so long as he scored between 60-64 and met the additional requirements listed above.

Any student or parent/guardian interested in filing an appeal must complete an "Appeal to Graduate with a Lower Score on a Regents Exam Form", which is available here.

  English language Learners

All students designated as English language learners by the Department of Education must pass the Regents English Language Arts Exam to receive a regular high school diploma. However, those students who enter the U.S. in 9th grade or later may take other required Regents examinations in their native languages if the translated exam is available and if the test is taken within three years of when they entered the U.S. The other required Regents examinations are available in Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Oral translation is provided for students if a version of the test is not available in their language.

More information on graduation requirements can be found on the New York City Department of Education's website.

Students in special education?

Students who receive special education services and are unable to pass the Regents examination may take the Regents Competency Tests, known as the RCT (this is referred to as the "Safety Net") if they enter 9th grade in or after September 2001 and prior to September 2011. In addition, for students who enter 9th grade in or after September 2005, a grade of 55-64 may be considered as a passing score on any Regents exam required for graduation. However, in both of these cases, students will only earn a local, and not a Regent's, diploma. This policy applies both to students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and students who were, but are no longer, in high school special education.

The law states that the majority of students who receive special education services should be prepared to earn regular high school diplomas. However, for a small minority of students, may graduate with one of two credentials: the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential; or  the Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential (SACC). They replace the "IEP Diploma," which is no longer offered. These credentials are not as useful as a regular diploma; for example, you cannot enlist in the military services or attend even a two-year college with tem. Students with disabilities can also be prepared for the GED but cannot be forced to pursue that degree instead of a regular diploma. For more information on these, see the Advocates for Children graduation guidelines (pdf) for students with disabilities.

If you are not sure whether your child is being prepared for a local, Regents or GED diploma, look on page 9 of his IEP. If the IEP says he is tracked for a local or Regent's diploma, talk to the supervisor or assistant principal of special education to make sure he is earning the credits he needs and being prepared for the graduation exams. If the IEP says he is tracked for a CDOS or a SACC, but you think your child should be able to earn a regular diploma, you can request a review meeting and use your due process rights. It might help to seek the advice of an advocate or attorney.

You should be focusing on the type of diploma your child is to earn way before he arrives at high school; as soon as your child is enrolled in school, you should be ensuring that he gets access to the regular curriculum and assistance necessary to meet the standards applicable to all children in his age group, unless his cognitive ability will not allow him to do so. Children who miss out on important instruction in the early grades may not be able to catch up later. Please see our page for more information about special education services.