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How do you graduate from high school?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts
Created February, 2022

To graduate from high school you need a high school diploma. Some students with disabilities who do not get a diploma may receive a certificate of completion and walk at graduation. To get a job and go to college, your child needs a diploma.

To get a high school diploma you must:

  • meet all school district graduation requirements, and
  • pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test.

MCAS tests are given at different grade levels to measure how your child’s progress in school.  The tests ask questions about:

  • Math
  • English
  • Science

All students in Massachusetts must take the MCAS in the 10th grade, or submit an MCAS Alternative portfolio. Your child must pass the MCAS to get a diploma.  If your child does not pass the MCAS, they can

  • take the test again the next year, or
  • appeal.

Some students may be able to take the MCAS Alternative Assessment.

If you are worried your child may not be able to graduate, they may need special education services or accommodations.  See My child is struggling at school


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