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  • Sarah Tira

Diploma versus Certificate of Completion

Part of the conversation IEP teams have in high school involves whether or not a child should work towards a certificate of completion or a diploma. There are drawbacks and benefits to both options, and the decision is individualized for each student. In my experience, most parents instinctively want their child to earn a high school diploma, but there are some benefits to a certificate of completion that a child misses out on if they graduate in the traditional sense. After 12th grade, if a student does not receive their diploma and instead receives a certificate of completion, the child can continue with a transition program up until the age of 22. In this program, students work on vocational skills, community skills, and independent living skills. Students who graduate with the certificate can still attend vocational school or community college, but may need to take remedial courses to qualify for advanced degree programs. If a diploma is within reach and the student wouldn’t benefit from a transition program, there can also be the option of extending high school to work on diploma requirements at a slower pace. There are many paths for high school students who have IEP‘s, but it’s important to have the discussion early and often with your child’s IEP team; you want your child’s team to be able to make any necessary changes to your child’s program before it’s too late. Contact San Diego SEA today if you need help having this discussion with your child’s IEP team!


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