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Important Information for Students on the Occupational Course of Study in High School

Freda Lee, Consultant for the Mental/Intellectual Disabilities Program for the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI), recently presented information to the Council on Educational Services for Exceptional Children; her topic was the Occupational Course of Study (OCS), one of only two diploma-tracks for high school students in NC.  Because NC’s OCS did not meet federal standards of rigor, it is being revamped.  In the meantime, there are some changes that are important for all parents of high school students with disabilities. 

  • For the next 2 years only, OCS students must take the regular education assessments, which will count in the school’s AYP, but these End of Course tests CANNOT be used to determine passing or failing.
  • New Extend 2 tests are being developed for high school; beginning in 2012, any student with a disability can take them (if the IEP team decides they are appropriate).
  • Some school districts may require passing an End of Course test to pass the course. 
  • Special hint:  NC WISE, which lists possible course offering codes for schools, has a code called “Career Training for EC”; this class can be used for vocational or community training as an elective credit (or CTE credit).  This could be very useful for a student not in the OCS who wants or needs community or vocational training before graduating…also possibly for a student who needs an extra year of high school to be prepared for life afterwards.

There may be more changes to the OCS as DPI prepares to increase the academic demands on these students, even though this course of study is for those with significant cognitive disabilities.  

P.S. If you don’t have a high school student, DON’T PANIC!  It will become clearer to you when your child is in high school.  It is very important, however, to begin thinking about graduation requirements in middle school–to prepare your child for the demands of high school.  The choice between Occupational Course of Study, Future Ready Core, or a non-diploma track is made by the parents, not the IEP team.  This is something that every parent should begin considering in middle school–ask your school system for information on input on this process (some districts have a checklist to aid in this decision).

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