Examining High School Exit Exams and Diploma Status: What’s the Impact?

What are Exit Exam Requirements / High School Diploma Statuses?

Meeting high school exit exam requirements and earning a high school diploma have been identified as a predictor of post-school success for youth with disabilities (Mazzotti et al., 2016; Test et al., 2009). Specifically, passing exit exams and obtaining a high school diploma are correlated with students’ likelihood of pursuing postsecondary education and gaining employment post-graduation, based on the current level of evidence which indicates that these are a promising predictor of post-school success. But what does this mean, and how can special educators, administrators, and families use this information to better support transition-age youth with disabilities?

Recommendations for States (Johnson et al., 2007, 2012, 2019)

There are many initiatives task forces, departments of education, and policymakers can do to increase the likelihood of the preparation of high school exit exams and diploma status occurring when working to support transition-age youth with disabilities:

Recommendations for Practitioners (Rowe, 2004; Test, Mazzotti et al., 2009; Thurlow et al., 2019)

School and district personnel supporting transition-age youth with disabilities should consider the following concerning high school exit exams and diploma status:

NTACT & Other Resources

NTACT Promising Predictor Brief — Descriptive brief explaining the correlation between High School Diploma/Exit Exams and improved education and employment outcomes


Johnson, D. R., Thurlow, M. L., Qian, X., & Anderson, L. (2019). Diploma options, graduation requirements, and exit exams for youth with disabilities: 2017 national study (Technical Report №409). University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
NTACT: the Collaborative

NTACT: the Collaborative


NTACT:C is a Technical Assistance and Dissemination project, funded by the OSEP and the RSA, Cooperative Agreement Number H326E140004.