Three graduates in caps and gowns walking away from cameraThe Safety Net
for Students with Disabilities
has been


The Safety Net has been extended.

It is now available to all students with disabilities entering 9th grade from September 1996 -September 2004.

Who qualifies for the Safety Net?

    • students with disabilities identified through a Committee on Special Education (CSE).
    • students with disabilities identified through the Section 504 Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) if recommended and documented by the MDT.
    • students with disabilities declassified while in grades 8-12 if recommended and documented by the CSE.

Why has the Safety Net been extended?

  • To allow additional time to gather data on how students with disabilities are doing on the required Regents exams and the effect of requiring students to take multiple Regents exams.

  • To allow general and special education teachers more time to receive training in instructional strategies and curriculum modifications.

  • To provide more time for Academic Intervention Services (AIS) to assist students with disabilities in achieving State learning standards in ELA, math, social studies and science.


What is the Safety Net?  
How does it work?

  • The safety net extends the availability of the local diploma for students with disabilities.
  • To earn a high school Regents diploma, students will need to take and pass the required course work and five Regents examinations.
  • The safety net allows students with disabilities who fail a required Regents exam to take the Regents Competency Test (RCT) or the equivalent in that subject. If they pass the RCT, they will receive credit toward a local diploma.
  • In all cases, the student must take the required Regents exam but may take the RCT before or after the Regents exam.
  • The RCTs will be available until the student graduates or reaches the age of 21.     


Parents as Real Partners

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is aimed at:

  • helping students with disabilities reach higher levels of achievement.

  • ensuring that students with disabilities participate in statewide assessments.

  • strengthening the role of parents as partners with the school by changing how decisions are made about special education services.

Mother helping daughter with schoolwork

Parents should work closely with the school and the CSE to assure that:

  • their child’s program includes the courses required to earn a high school diploma.
  • their child’s IEP includes the instructional modifications and supports they need to progress in the general education curriculum.
  • their child is provided with Academic Intervention Services (AIS), if eligible.


Higher Learning Standards
for all Students

The Board of Regents has set higher learning standards for all students. These standards say that, in order to receive a high school diploma, a student must demonstrate the ability to do high school level work. Earlier standards, measured by Regents Competency Tests (RCTs), were based on minimum high school graduation requirements at an 8th grade level. That was too low. Some feel these new standards may be out of reach for special education students. Nonetheless, the success rate of students with disabilities is much better than many people would predict.
  • All students with disabilities must have access to general education courses, electives and tests required for a high school diploma regardless of where they attend school or the type of school they attend (public or approved private school, BOCES program or State-operated/ State-supported school).
  • Not all students with disabilities will pursue the requirements for a Regents or local diploma. Some students will be awarded an Individualized Education Program (IEP) diploma based on achieving the educational goals specified in their IEP. Their IEP must be linked to the learning standards and to appropriate performance indicators for the student.




As more students with disabilities take the courses to prepare them for higher standards, they will be prepared to take the new State assessments. We are already seeing positive changes.

1999-2000 Results

  • The number of students with disabilities taking each of the five subject area examinations which will eventually be required for a Regents diploma continues to increase. On the English Regents examination, for example, 4,419 students with disabilities were tested in 1997, compared to 13,528 in 2000.

  • In 2000, more than twice the number of students passed the Regents exam in U.S. History and Government (6,050) than passed it in 1997 (2,702).
  • Three times the number of students with disabilities (10,143) passed the Regents exam in Global Studies and Global History and Geography* in 2000 than passed the Global Studies exam in 1997 (3,080). * The Global History and Geography examination was first administered in June 2000.
  • Almost three times the number of students with disabilities (9,514) passed the Regents exam in English in 2000 than passed it in 1997 (3,414).
  • More students with disabilities passed the Regents exam in Biology (4,993) in 2000 than took the exam in 1997 (2,948).
Graduate shaking hands with professor while receiving diploma
  • More than twice the number of students with disabilities passed the Regents exam in Mathematics Course 1 in 2000 (7,423) than passed it in 1997 (3,421).
  • In 1999-2000, 65.1 percent of students with disabilities who completed high school earned a Regents, local or High School Equivalency diploma.


How to get more Information

Regional Associates of the Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) may be reached at:
Western Region: (716) 344-2112 ext 420
Central Region: (315) 471-4796
Hudson Valley Region: (914) 245-0010
Eastern Region: (518) 486-6366
Long Island Region: (631) 884-8530
New York City Region: (718) 722-4544

New York State Education Department Web Sites:

Education Department:

VESID Special Education:

Elementary,Middle, Secondary and Continuing (EMSC) Education:

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The State Education Department does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, religion, creed, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin, race, gender, genetic predisposition or carrier status, or sexual orientation in its educational programs, services and activities. Portions of this publication can be made available in a variety of formats, including braille, large print or audio tape, upon request. Inquiries concerning this policy of nondiscrimination should be directed to the Department’s Office for Diversity, Ethics, and Access, Room 152, Education Building, Albany, NY 12234.

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