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Students Age 18-21 Continuing Schooling

Students Age 18-21 Continuing Schooling

Definition: Students who are over the typical graduation age of 18 but who continue schooling or special education services for a period of time up to the year of maximum age.

The Wisconsin Constitution (Article X, Section 3) guarantees a free education for children ages 4 through 20 who have not graduated from high school. The requirement of the local school district to provide free public elementary and secondary education to resident children is stated in Wis. Stat. sec. 121.77(1), as follows: “Every elementary school and high school shall be free to all pupils who reside in the district.”

Data Element Information: A student with a disability continues to have a right to FAPE until graduation with a regular diploma or until the age of 21. Once a student graduates with a regular diploma, they are no longer eligible for FAPE. If a student continues to attend school and receive services after they are no longer FAPE eligible (reached Max Age or graduated with a regular high school diploma), do not submit this student to WISEdata.

Exit Types:

  • High School Completion (HSC): Use this exit type if the student earned a high school completion credential on or before the exit date. This exit type requires that your district submit a high school completion credential type.

  • Maximum Age (MA): Use this exit type if all of the following applies:

    • the student's exit date is on or after the end of the most recently ended school year prior to the count date,

    • the student turned 20 prior to the beginning of the current school year and turns 21 before the start of the next school year term, and

    • the student did not receive a high school completion credential prior to the count date.

MA should only be used for the last possible year the student is eligible for FAPE, not when a student is between the ages of 18-20. If a student exits school prior to the max age year, then use the exit code of dropout, ODO. If the student transfers midterm during the final year of FAPE-eligibility, use an appropriate transfer code, such as TC; MA should only be used at the end of the school year. If a student earns a regular diploma, use the HSC exit type instead.

Helpful Details/Use Cases: 

If a student reaches the ‘max age year’ and exits school but then wants to return prior to the end of the school term, he or she is able to do so. The student would be entitled to FAPE until the end of the school term, such that the district would not be able to deny services.

Special Education Graduates:  When a student with disabilities graduates, the student's special education record must show that special education services continued until at least the exit date. Even if the student graduates prior to the last school year day, as seniors often do, the student will be documented properly as graduating with a disability so long as services continue through the exit date and the exit type is marked as High School Completion.

  • Though the HSC exit type is used for all high school completers, only use the HSC exit type for special education graduates once the student receives a regular diploma and will no longer return to school for any services, as the HSC exit code removes the student from being eligible for FAPE. Enter the highest credential type earned.
  • If the student walks in a senior graduation ceremony but will continue on for services temporarily or until reaching the max age, use the TC exit type until officially completing high school, which is for continuing or transferring students known to be continuing. If the student is still receiving educational services into the following school year(s), then the district should create a new enrollment and sSEPA record for the student. If the student meets regular diploma requirements, code the awarding of the diploma (and HSC exit) for the school year when the student no longer receives services.
  • If students with disabilities continue attending a work program course past the twelfth grade, mark the ‘Repeat Grade Indicator’ with a ‘Y’ (yes) on the student school association endpoint on their enrollment record in your SIS for the years after they meet their graduation requirements. Though you will identify the students as repeating grade 12, a repeat in grade 12 is not publicly reported on WISEdash (snapshots) for students with disabilities.

  • Refer to the Graduation FAQ for more information about graduation requirements.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recommends the IEP team have a discussion about graduation and post-secondary plans early on in a student's high school career (9th grade) to chart out a course of study and what they believe will happen. This, of course, is always subject to revision. An IEP team has no legal authority to alter graduation requirements established by district graduation policy. However, local school districts may use the IEP team process to determine whether the high school graduation requirements and local district policy have been met. For example, the IEP team may set educational goals and objectives in areas impacted by the student’s disability. Successful completion of the goals and objectives in the IEP may be relevant in determining if the student has met the academic performance criteria in the school board’s graduation policy. You must have an IEP meeting before graduating the student with a regular diploma or exiting the student due to age because those are changes of placement.

Compulsory School Age: Students exiting after reaching the compulsory school attendance age of 18 continue to be included in reports until age 21 and must have exit types. Use exit type ODO if the student is not known to be continuing in an educational program and no other exit type applies.

Students who reach age 21 prior to the beginning date of the school term may be admitted to the school district but are not included in school and district summaries for public reporting, revenue, aid, and accountability purposes for that school term.

Membership/Financial Implication: See School Financial Services' page Special Education Aid


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