The New Jersey Department of Education provided guidance regarding meeting the New Jersey state minimum graduation requirements by content area for students with disabilities in a recent advisory.

As authorized by N.J.S.A. 18A:7C, the commissioner of education, with the approval of the State Board of Education, has established a program of standards for graduation from secondary school that includes guidelines for the development of graduation standards by local boards of education. The guidelines for the development of graduation standards by local boards of education have been codified in N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1. No student, including students with disabilities, shall be exempted from statutorily mandated content area requirements necessary to earn a state-endorsed high school diploma.

In order to address the individual needs of students with disabilities, N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(c) permits district boards of education to specify alternate requirements for a state-endorsed diploma for individual students with disabilities. District boards of education shall specifically address any alternate requirements for graduation in a student’s individual education plan, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:14-4.11. Moreover, if local districts develop graduation requirements beyond those that are statutorily mandated, districts may exempt students with disabilities from the local district requirements, but not from the statutorily mandated content area requirements.

In accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.7(e), the IEP developed for the student must include a statement of the state and local graduation requirements that the student shall be expected to meet. If the IEP team determines that a student with a disability is exempted from local graduation requirements, or there is a modification to, local or state high school graduation requirements, the statement shall include a rationale for the exemption of local graduation requirements or modification of local or statutorily mandated requirements based on the student’s educational needs.

In addition, the statement should also include a description of the alternate proficiencies to be achieved by the student to qualify for a state-endorsed diploma. The alternate proficiency must be related to the content area addressed in the IEP. For instance, if an IEP team determines that a student with disabilities is exempt from meeting the credit requirement for world languages, it is the responsibility of the IEP team to determine an alternate proficiency related to the world language requirement to be achieved by the student – and the team should document those decisions in the IEP.

The full advisory includes more detailed information, including the below chart on statutory and regulatory requirements by content area, and whether or not a course can be waived or modified for a student with a disability — and if waived whether the IEP must contain an alternative proficiency for graduation for a student with a disability.

Content AreaStatutory RequirementRegulatory RequirementCan this course be waived for a student with a disability?Can this course be modified for a student with a disability?If waived, must the IEP contain an alternate proficiency for graduation for a student with a disability?
Health, Safety and Physical EducationN.J.S.A. 18A:35- 5, 18A:35-7 and


N.J.A.C. 6A:8- 5.1(a)(1)(vi)NoYesN/A
English Language ArtsN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8-


MathematicsN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8-


World LanguagesN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8-


TechnologyN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8-


21st Century Life and Careers 


N.J.A.C. 6A:8- 5.1(a)(1)(x) 






ScienceN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8- 5.1(a)(1)(iii)YesYesYes
Social StudiesN.J.S.A. 18A:35-1 and 18A:35-2N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)(1)(iv)NoYesN/A
Financial, Economic Business, and Entrepreneurial Business LiteracyN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8- 5.1(a)(1)(v)YesYesYes
Visual and Performing ArtsN/AN.J.A.C. 6A:8- 5.1(a)(1)(vii)YesYesYes

Questions should be directed to the Office of Special Education at 609-376-9060 or via email.