Visalia Unified School District changes graduation requirements for students with disabilities to only need to meet statewide graduation requirements
VISALIA – After a change was made to Visalia Unified’s graduation requirements, parents and their students on individualized education programs will be able to celebrate an academic achievement previously seen as unattainable.
At the March 28 Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) school board meeting, the board approved a change in graduation requirements for students on an individualized education program (IEP). This change will allow students with an IEP to complete only statewide graduation requirements to allow them to receive a diploma and walk at graduation. Nothing will change on a day to day basis for these students and the change will help 20 to 30 students each year graduate throughout the district.
“At Visalia Unified, we believe that every student can achieve at high levels. The graduation revisions are to ensure that students on IEPs are able to see the results of their hard work and dedication,” Superintendent Kirk Shrum said.
The revision is an exemption for students on an IEP that will allow these students to graduate by following only statewide course requirements for high school graduation. Students on IEPs will now be allowed exemptions from the added graduation requirements adopted by the board. The additional board implemented graduation requirements include things like an extra year of math, or english and often times are put in place to help students meet A-G requirements for college applications.
With the change, prior to the beginning of grade 10, the IEP team for each student with disabilities shall determine whether the student is eligible for exemptions. If the student is eligible, the IEP team will notify the student’s parent or guardian of the exemption. VUSD will begin to see this increase for the graduating class of 2026. According to VUSD public information officer, Cristina Gutierrez they will be able to place incoming 10th graders on this path now to earn a diploma when they finish high school as seniors.
“This change will give students and their parents the ability to celebrate an academic achievement that they might have thought was unattainable,” VUSD board president, Walta Gamoian said. “We are continually looking for ways to improve upon our policies and systems to make sure students have the support and opportunities to be successful.”
In addition to the students on an IEP needing to meet state graduation requirements they will still need to take the California Alternate Assessment, (CAA). It is an assessment that has been in place for several years. The CAAs are for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and whose IEP team has designated the use of an alternate assessment on statewide summative assessments according to Gutierrez.
Students who receive support from an IEP are eligible to continue receiving support until the age of 22. Currently there are a total of 3,800 students on IEPs from pre-kindergarten to their adult years throughout VUSD. And according to Gutierrez there are around 33,000 students in the district overall. This change in requirements will not change the daily life of those students on IEPs. The only difference is it will allow for additional flexibility in classes students can take and their ability to receive a diploma.