New law makes transition from high school easier for those with disabilities

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Under a law passed earlier this year by the South Carolina lawmakers, students with disabilities will have the opportunity to graduate with Employability Credentials.

Currently, students with disabilities who attend school but cannot earn the 24 credits for a diploma leave the system with a certificate of attendance from the state. That certificate does little to help them when they are looking for a job.

The Employability Credentials give prospective employees a way to gauge what skills a student learned that could translate in to job skills.

Several counties in South Carolina have used credential programs but there was no statewide option.

The class of 2022 will be the first to receive these credentials as the new law takes affect in the 2018-2019 school with ninth graders.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Hembree of North Myrtle Beach, was introduced to the Senate February 23. It was before the house by April 4 and was signed by the Governor on May 19.

The Employability Credentials program will not be for every student; the preference is that as many students as possible graduate with a diploma. School administration will determine a student’s need for the credential program based on their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

The Profile of the South Carolina graduate includes Life and Career Characteristics, which means that life skills and interpersonal skills as well as employability skills, like how to conduct themselves in an interview, are important for students to be successful after high school.

The bill reads in part:

“Coursework must be aligned with a student’s personalized diploma pathway. The State Board of Education shall promulgate regulations that outline the process and procedures for approval of courses to personalize pathways based on students’ postsecondary plans and include an annually updated course activity coding manual listing approved courses. The individualized graduation planning process must plan each student’s personalized pathway based on his postsecondary plans.

The State Board of Education, through the Department of Education and in collaboration with the Vocational Rehabilitation Department, the Department of Employment and Workforce, businesses, and stakeholders shall develop criteria for a uniform state-recognized employability credential that is aligned to the program of study for students with a disability whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines, and agrees in writing, that a diploma pathway would not provide a free appropriate public education. The State Board of Education, in conjunction with the department, shall develop a rubric and guidelines to identify and assess the employability skills of the students, based on appropriate standards established.”

Author: Duane Childers

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