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ERIC Number: ED511745
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Pages: 110
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 41
Earning a High School Diploma through Alternative Routes. Synthesis Report 76
Thurlow, Martha L.; Vang, Miong; Cormier, Damien
National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota
The purpose of this study was to examine the alternative routes to passing the high school exit exam that were available during the school year 2008-09 to students to earn a standard high school diploma. The authors examined alternative routes in the 26 states with active or soon to be active exit exams. They documented the alternative routes available for all students and those specifically for students with disabilities. Nineteen states were identified as having exit exams that had designated alternative routes to the standard diploma. Most of these states had multiple alternative routes, totaling 46 across the 19 states. Thirteen of these states had alternative routes for all students (which included students with disabilities); sixteen had alternative routes uniquely available to students with disabilities. Ten of the states had both. Many states had more than one route available for either group of students. The 13 states with routes for all students had a total of 23 alternatives. The 16 states with routes specifically for students with disabilities had a total of 23 alternatives. The authors' analyses revealed that information on alternative routes is not always easily accessible, and that once found, it is still not always easy to find some of the most basic information about the route. Routes vary in their names, with some being very clear about their comparability to the regular exit exam route, and others suggesting that an alternative route does not require the same level of performance as the regular route, even though the result is receipt of a standard diploma. Alternative routes also vary considerably in the process involved, including whether the student must first take the regular exit exam before being allowed to pursue the alternative route, and who must request the alternative route option. In addition, there are variations in who approves the performance reflected in the alternative route, thereby allowing the student to earn a standard diploma. Several differences were noted between the routes designated for all students and those designated only for students with disabilities, although the differences did not apply to all states or all alternatives. For example, students were more often not required to take the regular exit exam if they had disabilities. Furthermore, approval decisions were more often made at the local level for students with disabilities than for all students. Appendices include: (1) Template for State Profiles for States to Review and Verify; (2) Names of Diplomas in States and Whether Considered "Standard"; and (3) Profiles of States with Alternative Routes. Individual state profiles contain tables and web resources. (Contains 9 tables and 3 figures.)
National Center on Educational Outcomes. University of Minnesota, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Tel: 612-626-1530; Fax: 612-624-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS)
Authoring Institution: National Center on Educational Outcomes
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act
IES Cited: ED524955