What is the Difference Between a High School Diploma and a Certificate of Completion?

Students with disabilities can earn a diploma or a certificate of completion. Students may earn a certificate of completion prior to receiving their diploma, as they may meet those requirements prior to meeting the requirements for a diploma.

Certificates of completion are regulated state-by-state and have different rules in each state.  In general, a Certificate of Completion signals that its holder has completed required course work in high school and has met that aspect of the school’s graduation requirements.

Diploma: In order to earn a diploma, a student must earn 200 credits in the required coursework. 

Certificate of Completion: The EC ( CA Education Code) allows a district to award certificates or documents of achievement or completion to students with IEPs who are unable to meet all state and local graduation requirements. 

Students with an IEP who are  on alternative curriculum earn a certificate of completion by meeting any one of the following conditions:

These three criteria are based on students receiving a modified curriculum who require extensive, repeated, and individualized instructions and substantial support that is not temporary to make measurable gains in age-appropriate curriculum.  This is not for students who are credit deficient.

Can My Student Continue Working Toward Their High School Diploma or Certificate of Completion After the Age of 18?

Under the IDEA (2004), students with an Individualized Education Plan, have until the age of 22 to graduate high school. 

Note: Per CA Ed Code, 56026.1 (a) As provided in Section 300.102(a)(3)(i) of Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, an individual with exceptional needs who graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma is no longer eligible for special education and related services.

What is Transition Planning and What are Transition Services? 

Transition planning is mandatory for all high school students with an IEP. Transition planning should start at age 16, or earlier if deemed necessary by the IEP team. 

A transition plan is a section of the IEP ( toward the front of the IEP document) that outlines transition goals and services for the student. The individualized transition (ITP) plan is based on a high school student's individual needs, strengths, skills, and interests.

To help students achieve their measurable post-school goals, the ITP and IEP should outline the transition services required for a smooth transition from high school to the adult world. The section of the IEP that focuses on transition services is a personalized plan designed to address future goals in education/training, employment, and independent living as mandated by IDEA 2004.  Transition services are a direct service to the student.

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When do Transition Services Begin?

We are thrilled to inform you that our transition program begins in 9th grade and has been in place for many years at our charter schools! 

Starting transition services for students with disabilities before the age of 16 is crucial for several reasons:

However, we understand that some students may not be prepared to start until they reach the federally mandated age of 16 years old. This matter and discussion will be addressed during the 8th grade transition IEP meeting with the IEP team. 

Who is Involved in the Transition Planning Process?

What is Age of Majority?

At 18 years of age educational rights transfer to students with disabilities who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and who are not conserved. When a student becomes 18 years of age they are legally considered an adult and their rights to make important life decisions including living independently, financial management, continuing or not continuing with school, transfer from parent/guardian to themselves. 

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My Question Wasn't Listed Here, What Should I Do?

You may contact your student's transition teacher or contact the transition department at click here.