Special Education

NYS CDOS Commencement Credential - Questions and Answers (Updated August 2014)

A. Eligibility

  1. Can a student with a disability receive the CDOS Commencement Credential if he/she continues in high school beyond four years?

Yes. 

  1. If a student is expected to be able to graduate with a Regents diploma, must that student participate in the requirements for the CDOS Commencement Credential?

While not required, all students with disabilities should be encouraged to earn the CDOS Commencement Credential as a supplement to their local or Regents diploma. 

  1. Can a student be awarded the CDOS Commencement Credential if he/she has met all of the criteria for the CDOS Commencement Credential; attended school for at least 12 years, excluding kindergarten; has not yet earned a diploma; and is not planning to return to school the next year?

Yes. If the student’s only exiting credential is the CDOS Commencement Credential (i.e., the student has not yet earned a diploma), the credential must be accompanied by a written statement informing the parent that the student continues to be eligible for a free appropriate public education (FAPE) until the student has earned a local or Regents diploma or until the end of the school year in which the student turns age 21, whichever occurs earlier.  The State’s required Prior Written Notice has been revised to incorporate language regarding the award of the CDOS Commencement Credential (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/formsnotices/PWN/home.html).

  1. If a student turns 21 in August, would he/she be eligible to stay in school for another year?  

No.  The student would not be eligible to remain in school the following school year. Section 200.5(a)(5)(iii) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education indicates that the student continues to be eligible for FAPE until the end of the school year in which the student turns 21 or until the receipt of a regular high school diploma.  Section 4402(5) of NYS Education Law indicates that students with disabilities reaching the age of 21 between July 1 and August 31 are eligible to remain in school until the 31st day of August or until the end of summer program, whichever occurs first.  Students turning age 21 between September 1 and June 30 are entitled to remain in school until June 30 or until the end of the school year, whichever comes first.

  1. May a student who earns the CDOS Commencement Credential as his/her only exiting credential participate in the high school graduation ceremony and “walk across the stage?”  May a student who doesn’t earn either a regular diploma or the credential participate in the graduation ceremony?

Nothing in State law, regulation or guidance prevents a student from participating in graduation ceremonies.  How a school conducts a graduation ceremony and the requirements needed for participation are a local decision made by the school district.

  1. Can a student that takes the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for some subject areas and Regents exams for other subject areas be eligible for the CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

A student with a disability, who meets the definition in section 100.1(t)(2)1, may be recommended by the committee on special education (CSE) to participate in the State’s alternate assessment only for selected assessments if, for the other assessment areas, the student can achieve the State’s standards for all students in other subject areas and be assessed through the regular State assessments (Regents examinations).  (State data shows very few instances when this has occurred in the past.)  However, in the exceptional instances when this may occur, such student may be eligible for the CDOS Commencement Credential if the student meets the requirements, including achievement at the commencement level of the State’s CDOS Learning Standards. 

  1. If a student with a disability has been identified to participate in NYSAA, yet the CSE believes the student was misidentified for NYSAA, could the CSE recommend that the student participate in the general education assessments and work toward the local/Regents diploma and CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

Yes.  Decisions regarding a student’s participation in State assessments are important and must be thoughtfully determined by the CSE, which includes the parents.  The CSE must consider annually whether the student will participate in the general assessments (Regents examinations) or the alternate assessments (NYSAA) and document that recommendation in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).  Although an infrequent occurrence, the CSE may determine it is appropriate to change the student from one assessment to the other.

  1. Are students with a Section 504 Plan eligible for the CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

No. Only students with disabilities who receive special education services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) may be awarded the CDOS Commencement Credential.

  1. Are students who have been declassified eligible for the CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

No. The CDOS Commencement Credential may only be awarded to a student with a current IEP.

  1. Are students with a disability that have an IEP, are enrolled in an Alternative High School Equivalency Program (AHSEP) or Alternative Transition Program (ATP) and working towards attainment of the New York State’s high school equivalency diploma (Test Assessing Secondary Completion - TASC) eligible for the CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

Yes.  A student with a disability working towards a high school equivalency diploma and enrolled in a New York State Education Department (NYSED) approved AHSEP or ATP is eligible to receive the CDOS Commencement Credential provided the student completed all of the requirements for the credential. 

  1. Is the CDOS Commencement Credential available to students without disabilities? (August 2014)

No.  Only students with disabilities who receive special education services pursuant to IDEA and are not eligible for NYSAA may be awarded the CDOS Commencement Credential.

  1. May a student with a disability who has graduated with a regular high school diploma return to school to work toward the CDOS Commencement Credential? (August 2014)

No.  A school district has fulfilled its obligation to provide FAPE when a student with a disability graduates with a regular high school diploma (Regents or local diploma). 

  1. What questions should schools consider to ensure the CDOS Commencement Credential is appropriately awarded under Option 1? (August 2014)

Districts must ensure that the CDOS Commencement Credential is awarded with fidelity, consistent with its requirements and intended purpose as a certificate of readiness for entry level employment.  Districts should be able to answer yes to each of the following questions and feel confident that the student has met the requirements for the credential.

  • Does the student have a career plan in which he/she participated in the development?  Do you have a copy of the career plan in effect during the student’s final year of school?
  • Does the school have evidence that the student attained each of the CDOS Learning Standards at the commencement level?
  • Did the student successfully complete at least 216 hours of career and technical education (CTE) coursework and/or work-based learning, including at least 54 hours of work-based learning?
  • Does the student have at least one employability profile completed within his/her last year of high school by an individual knowledgeable about his/her skills?  Is the name and title of that person included and is it signed and dated?  Does it document the student’s employability skills and experiences; and, as appropriate, attainment of technical knowledge and work-related skills, work experiences, performance on industry-based assessments and other work-related and academic achievements?
  • Did the student graduate with a regular high school diploma or attend school for at least 12 years, excluding kindergarten?
  • Is the student truly ready for entry-level employment?  If you were an employer, would you hire this student?
  1. Is a high school diploma required for consideration for civil service section 55(b) employment? (August 2014)

No.  According to the NYS Department of Civil Service, individuals applying for a position under Section 55(b) are not required to have a high school diploma.  Section 55(b) of NYS Civil Service Law is a specialized program to place individuals with disabilities in entry level State jobs and requires no written or oral examination.  Candidates must submit a formal application along with a medical evaluation.  Section 55(b) authorizes State agencies to designate up to 1,200 positions in the noncompetitive class to be filled by qualified people with disabilities.  Eligibility is based on each individual’s degree of functional limitation and employment history. See http://www.cs.ny.gov/dpm/b55.cfm for additional information.

  1. Is a student exiting high school with the CDOS Commencement Credential in the absence of a regular diploma considered a dropout? (August 2014)

No. Students exiting high school with only the CDOS Commencement Credential would be considered a “high school completer”.  These students would not be included in either the “drop out” or “graduation” counts.


1 Students with severe disabilities means students who have limited cognitive abilities combined with behavioral and/or physical limitations and who require highly specialized education, social, psychological and medical services in order to maximize their full potential for useful and meaningful participation in society and for self-fulfillment. Students with severe disabilities may experience severe speech, language, and/or perceptual-cognitive impairments, and evidence challenging behaviors that interfere with learning and socialization opportunities. These students may also have extremely fragile physiological conditions and may require personal care, physical/verbal supports and/or prompts and assistive technology devices.

Last Updated: August 5, 2014