Until now, students receiving special education in New York State would be working toward an IEP (Individual Education Plan) diploma throughout their years of high school. With the final decision well on its way, the Board of Regents has proposed that the state get rid of the IEP diploma, and instead replace it with a "skills and achievement commencement credential." Sure, this certificate will allow the state to continue receiving federal funding, but how exactly will special education students benefit from the change? The Board of Regents believes that the IEP is a "misleading" safety net allowing students with special needs to not work to their full ability (Phillips). This generalization created by The Regents Board has sparked a flame of fury amongst the families of special needs children, especially since the commencement credential could potentially hinder their child's chances of employment or going to college in the future. Not only is the new skills and achievement commencement credential discrimination towards people of special needs, but also it is in complete opposition of equal opportunity.
Despite the NYS Board of Regents claiming that the new skills and achievement commencement credential will broaden special education students' range of capability (Phillips), after looking closely at the documentation of the proposal, it is clear that it may do just the opposite. According to the Amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, if a student receiving the credential is under the age of twenty-one, the student can continue going to school in their district (tuition free) until they either qualify for a regular high school diploma, or turn twenty-one; "whichever comes first." This means that special education students will have to go to school for longer, with the possibility of turning twenty-one before they even get to complete their regular high school diploma (NYS Education Department).