INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITIES WHO RECEIVED A WAIVER FOR THE REQUIREMENTS NECESSARY TO EARN A STANDARD DIPLOMA: A STUDY OF ONE SYSTEM
Cantrell, David Jay
McLaughlin, Margaret J
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the association of individual characteristics to include disability status, age, gender, and race-ethnicity on receiving a waiver from one or more of the requirements for receipt of the standard diploma among students with and without disabilities. Student data was drawn from a large, international school system, referred to as the Participating School System (PSS) that operates schools throughout the world for military and civilian dependents. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and logistic regression analyses were used to answer the four research questions. The results of this study demonstrated there was an association between age, race-ethnicity, and disability status and receiving a waiver from the requirements for the standard diploma. Logistic regression analyses showed that disability status, race-ethnicity, and age increased the odds of receiving any type of waiver, a mathematics waiver, a foreign language waiver, and an other course credit waiver (i.e., science, physical education). Regardless of a student's race-ethnicity, students with disabilities had increased odds of receiving a waiver than did students without disabilities. Although students with disabilities were more likely to receive a waiver than students without disabilities, regardless of race/ethnicity, non-White students with disabilities had increased likelihood of receiving a waiver than White students with disabilities. Additionally, older students with disabilities had increased odds of receiving a waiver. The rationales for granting a waiver for students with disabilities consistently cited were the student's disability status and assessed academic weakness as the reason for granting the waiver or waivers of requirements for the standard diploma. Recommendations stress that school procedures and guidance for awarding a waiver from the requirements for the standard diploma should be clearly designed and articulated to parents, students, and school staff, and specific guidance is provided to special education teams to ensure that students with disabilities are afforded a commensurate educational experience that is provided to students without disabilities. Additionally, school programs should be in place to develop appropriate accommodations and interventions to support the often depressed academic skills of students with disabilities; academic skills that are necessary to successfully complete the requirements for receipt of the standard diploma.