The pandemic has adversely impacted students with disabilities in the state of Texas. The loss of instructional time has made valuable employment transition skills nonexistent due the pandemic and shortened school year. High school seniors, especially high school seniors with disabilities have run out of time to complete their high school diploma and take advantage of school to work transitional services. In public schools across the nation, there are 6.5 million students with disabilities. Out of that number, fully 3.5 million are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students with disabilities. In addition, 11.4 percent of students with disabilities nationwide (almost 720,000) also identify as English language learners.
Many these students are high school senior students with disabilities that have missed out on high school completion with the goal to earn a diploma and vital year to gain skills needed for integration into the workforce. There is no make-up year unless one is created. An additional year of schooling or "13th year" is crucial to allow graduating students to succeed and enter the workforce. The pandemic should not deny transition services to this year's seniors. As education is a civil right in the United States. If students fail to earn their high school diploma, then they will be denied the opportunity to go to college. Numerous studies have demonstrated graduates of college will earn far more than college students who drop out. By far those earning the least our students without a high school diploma. It is imperative that students with disabilities in Texas are given a thirteenth year of schooling to close the gap the pandemic has created and allow them to take advantage of the additional time to complete their high school diploma and take advantage of transitional services to employment for their lifelong success.