You Can Still Get Your High School Diploma If You Failed a Graduation Test

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded


On Monday, March 30, 2015, Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 91 into law, thereby creating a new code section, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-281.1. This law became effective upon the Governor's signature.

This law provides that students shall no longer be required to earn a passing score on any graduation tests to earn a high school diploma.  The law also contains additional details and requirements regarding the ability of students no longer enrolled to petition the local board of education for a diploma for students whose sole reason for not receiving a high school diploma was due to not passing any part of the graduation tests.

Frequently Asked Questions

1)     I currently have a waiver case for the Georgia High School Graduation Tests pending for consideration by the State Board of Education. What should I do?
Answer:          The Georgia Department of Education will be mailing information regarding current waivers to local school systems notifying them that the new law allows them to award a diploma if the applicant has met all other local and state graduation requirements. You may contact your local school system for further information.

2)     When did this law take effect?
Answer:          ​The law took effect upon the Governor’s signature on March 30, 2015.

3)     Which tests are included in the law?
Answer:       The law includes all subjects, forms and versions of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies), Georgia High School Writing Test, and Basic Skills Tests (Reading, Mathematics, and Writing). These tests are inclusively referred to as “graduation tests” throughout this document.

4)     How far back does this law cover?
Answer:       The law covers all graduation tests, beginning with the Basic Skills Test which was administered to students who enrolled for the first time in grade 9 on or after July 1, 1981.

5)     Can a student who is no longer enrolled in a Georgia public school, and did not graduate for the sole reason that he or did not pass all of the graduation tests, still receive a Georgia regular high school diploma?
Answer:          Yes, individuals no longer enrolled in a public school who were denied a high school diploma  solely for not achieving a passing score on any of the graduation tests and met all other local and state requirements may submit a petition to the local school system to determine eligibility to receive a high school diploma under O.C.G.A. § 20-2-281.1. 

6)     What should a student do if he or she moved from the school system where he or she went to high school?
Answer:          An applicant should make a petition with the school system where he or she last attended high school in Georgia.

7)     What should a person do if the high school he or she attended no longer exists or merged with another high school?
Answer:      In this case the individual should contact the local school system last attended in Georgia.

8)     Who will determine when all of the graduation requirements have been met?
Answer:       The local school system will make the final determination based on the state and local graduation requirements that were in effect when the student entered ninth grade.

9)      Is there a deadline for petitioning the local board of education?
Answer:          No.

10)  Can an individual who earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate and did not receive a regular education diploma solely for not passing the graduation tests submit a petition for a regular education diploma?
Answer:        Yes, if the petitioner was a student who previously failed to receive a high school diploma in this state or was denied graduation solely for failing to achieve a passing score on the graduation tests.​


USE the sample petition below in PDF format to request your diploma or check with your local school district to see if they already have a form for you to use.


Last Review and Update: Jun 05, 2015