Obtaining a High School Diploma or its Equivalency




The NYC Department of Education has options to help students who have dropped out of the educational system to obtain a high school diploma (or a high school equivalency diploma), which include alternative high schools and programs to complete the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exam, formerly known as a GED.

While the history of alternative schools has arguably existed since the birth of the American educational system, alternative high schools find their roots in the civil rights movement. During this time, alternatives to traditional high schools were created to offer meaningful educational opportunities to disadvantaged and minority students. These schools were characterized by parent, student and teacher choice; autonomy in learning and pace; non-competitive evaluation; and a child-centered approach.

The original General Educational Development (GED) examination was adopted in 1942 for members of the armed forces returning from World War II, who had left high school in order to serve in the war. The military, concerned about issues of morale, did not want returning servicemen to have to re-enroll in high school, so in order to show support for the war heroes, college administrators agreed to recognize the GED as an alternative route into higher education. The American Council on Education (ACE) secured the copyrights to the exam and became responsible for its development and administration. The test was later opened to civilians in 1947.

On January 1, 2014 the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) replaced the GED as the primary pathway to a New York State high school equivalency diploma. The TASC is used to verify that examinees have knowledge in core content areas equivalent to that of graduating high school seniors.


In NYC, alternative high schools are administered within the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). All TASC testing in New York State is overseen by the New York State Education Department (NYSED). NYSED contracts with schools, community-based organizations, and other programs who administer TASC tests in each city or county in the state. TASC preparation is not centralized under any one public agency; rather, they operate within four sub-systems: the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York (CUNY), community-based organizations, and the public library system.


Alternative high schools are funded with local education funds, similar to traditional high schools. TASC programs are funded by a range of state, local, and federal sources.

Summary of Alternative High Schools & TASC Programs

All New York City residents age 21 and under have the right to receive educational services from the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE), even if they have been formerly discharged (“dropped out”) from high school.

The NYC DOE offers a range of alternative high schools and programs that are designed to serve young people, 21 and under, who have fallen behind in high school or left school before completion, to receive a full high school diploma.

In addition to these programs, individuals age 17 and over are eligible to enroll in public programs toward the goal of passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exam. There are a variety of different program settings available for those between the ages of 17 and 21, as well as for those who are 21 and over.