Skip to Content

  • Policy Report
  • More than a Statistic: Faces of the Local Diploma

    This briefing paper profiles nine young adults who were able to earn their high school diploma only because the local diploma, which the state is phasing out, existed. The paper calls on officials to develop alternative pathways to earn a regular high school diploma.

    Oct 28, 2010

    Smiling teen girl with a backpack. (Photo by, Adobe Stock)
    Photo by, Adobe Stock

    In New York State, 14.5% of graduating students in 2009 received a local diploma, rather than the more rigorous Regents diploma. But the State is phasing out the local diploma as an option. This briefing paper, More than a Statistic: Faces of the Local Diploma, profiles nine young adults who graduated with a local diploma and asks the State to reconsider its phase out plan until it develops a more comprehensive and inclusive set of pathways to graduation.

    Disproportionate numbers of Blacks and Latinos, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities are leaving high school with the local diploma. In the briefing paper, the young adults explain how the local diploma opened doors for them that would otherwise have remained closed.

    Meghan Healy, a local diploma graduate and an art teacher, says that if not for the local diploma, she “would not have had the opportunity to go to college.” She adds, “I would probably be an angry adult because I would not have had a chance to pursue my dreams.”

    Ashley Washington worked hard to obtain a local diploma, staying in school after most of her peers had graduated. When asked what she would have done if a local diploma had not been available, she answered, “I do not know what would have happened.” Ashley recently began a vocational program in office and computer technology.

    “Ultimately, we would like to see all students have a pathway to a Regents diploma,” commented Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director, “but merely removing the option of the local diploma is not enough to move all students to the point of meeting the more demanding Regents diploma requirements. No matter what you think of the local diploma, it does in fact have value as a credential that makes opportunities available to the students who receive it.”

    Related Policy Resources