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:

  • Satisfactory completion of 200 credits of a prescribed alternative course of study as identified on the student’s IEP; or

  • Satisfactory achievement of his/her IEP goals and objectives during high school as determined by the IEP team; or

  • Satisfactory high school attendance, participation in the instruction prescribed in his /her IEP and achievement of the transition goals and objectives.

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 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 are Transition Services?

Transition services and ITP’s ( Individualized Transition Plans) are built into the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Transition services help prepare students with disabilities to move from school to post-school life.

When do Transition Services Begin?

Transition services start in the 9th grade.

What is a Transition Plan?

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

Is an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) required by state and federal law?

Yes, IDEA (2004) states that transition planning for students must begin by age 16 (some states require that the process starts earlier). Transition planning means evaluating needs, strengths, and skills required for a student to move from high school to postsecondary life.

Who is involved in the transition planning process?

  • student

  • parent/guardian

  • case manager

  • transition teacher

  • general education representative

  • high school counselor

  • service providers

  • outside agency representatives (if applicable)

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.

How does my student obtain a work permit?

Students who are actively enrolled and in compliance with our charter schools can apply for a work permit. At this time there are no GPA requirements. Please contact record department for further information.

Will my student receive credit for attending transition sessions?

No, transition is part of the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP); therefore, general education credit is not given.

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.