(a) To receive a full diploma upon graduation from high school, a student must meet requirements as set forth by the state board of education.
(b) As a strategy for assessing student readiness to enter and succeed in postsecondary training, every public school student shall take a series of three (3) examinations, one (1) administered at grade eight (8), one (1) administered at grade ten (10), and one (1) at grade eleven (11). These assessments shall be approved by the commissioner of education and provide educators with diagnostic information to assist in developing interventions for the purpose of increasing high school graduation rates and improving student preparation for postsecondary achievement. Each year, the results of the examinations shall be analyzed and reported by the commissioner of education to the education committee of the senate and the education committees of the house of representatives.
(c) All tests developed or used to implement this section, all banks of questions, all field testing documents used as background for the development of the tests and all answers shall be kept confidential when and for as long as necessary to protect the integrity of the tests, and accordingly, are exempt from the requirements of § 10-7-503 .
(d) The board shall require each LEA to provide remediation services to any student who fails a portion of any examination required under this section for the portion of the examination that the student failed.
(e) Each LEA shall, by September 30 of each year, submit a report to the commissioner of education that details interventions as required by subsection (d) and the Official Compilation of Rules and Regulations of the State of Tennessee rule 0520-1-3-.06, 1(d)2(ii). The report shall include the types of interventions made available, the number of students participating in the interventions, the success rate of participating students and strategies used to make parents and students aware of the interventions available.
(f) Each LEA shall include the information contained in the report from subsection (e) as part of the school improvement planning process as required by the board of education.
(g) In addition to a full diploma, a certificate of attendance, or a special education diploma, the board shall adopt an occupational diploma for students with disabilities. The board shall set appropriate standards and benchmarks of attendance, academic achievement, and job readiness skills for the occupational diploma. A student is not required to comply with the testing requirements of subdivision (a)(1) in order to receive an occupational diploma.
(h) The commissioner of education is directed to establish dates for the administration of assessments required for graduation that provide the maximum instructional days possible prior to testing while maintaining compliance with all relevant federal law.
(i) Students who, in lieu of graduating from high school, obtain a general equivalency development credential (GED®) shall be counted as a high school graduate of the high school that they attended or were eligible to attend for the purpose of calculating graduation rates; provided, however, that such students shall not be counted as graduates for purposes pursuant to which such inclusion in a graduation rate calculation is prohibited by federal law.
(j) No LEA shall require any enrolling or transferring student, who is in grade eleven (11) or higher and in the custody of the department of children's services or exiting its custody, to meet more than the minimum requirements for graduation set forth by the state board of education. The LEA shall issue a full diploma to any such student who meets the minimum requirements.
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