Certificates not diplomas for Special Ed students ? WTF !

Additional information from blog Children & Education From CBASSE — On Certificates and Diplomas

Steve Newton and I had a side-bar discussion on Special Ed students and I was “shocked” to learn these students don’t receive a diploma but rather a certificate of completion.

Sure, I understand the analogy but it doesn’t sit well with me. To me its just another way of telling these kids they are different. I doubt many will game the system in seeking employment by having a diploma.

I remember the warring  days with Senator Sokola over those 3-tiered diplomas where mostly at-risk student would receive Basic Diploma. We touched on Special Ed students where I stated, if a Special Ed student exceeds the objective of their IEP in their own right they should earn a Distinguished diploma.

I don’t think by showing some compassion by giving Special Ed students a diploma would devalue a high school diploma. Does anyone really believe a parent of a Regular Ed student would yell foul?

I am starting to think our Special Ed students are getting lost in Race to The Top.

Thank God those 3-Tiered diplomas (Basic, Standard and Distinguished) were booted! It was like we wanted grade children like cattle. Those diplomas were based solely on the DSTP scores.


21 responses to “Certificates not diplomas for Special Ed students ? WTF !

  1. True,

    My son may never recieve a high school diploma no mateer how hard he tries or how much he has really learned because of the way we measure and apply.


  2. kilroysdelaware

    John, its all about passion which I think needs to apply. If a Special Ed students makes it to the certificate stage re: high school, I see no reason not to give him a diploma. I thinks we could call the legislation, Compassion in education act! I am going to try to run it up the legislative flag pole.


    • It is a sad situation. For all these years I thought my mother had a diploma and wondered why is wasn’t out on display like my brother’s and I. She had been hiding it for 42 yrs and then I stumbled upon it. I was sad because she attended school every day and was a cheerleader and part of the choir and Caesar Rodney gives her a Certificate? Just because it takes some people a little longer to learn doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a diploma. Special Ed students go to school and learn just like any other student. They deserve a Diploma too.


  3. As a parent of a special ed child, this makes me very angry and incredibly sad. No one understands how very very hard these kids work, to reach their benchmarks, so why the hell can’t they get a diploma?


  4. Amen Newarkmom,.


  5. Good luck Kilroy. The waters are infested in Dover right now…..


  6. kilroysdelaware

    Newarkmom, I am going to reach out to some legislators to address this. Its all a matter of compassion and I can’t see how showing compassion to Special Ed students and their parents devalues a diploma!


  7. I agree! Go get ’em!! You got my support….and I’m a heck of a letter writer, or whatever else would help 🙂


  8. Also, the UofD must be doing a study right now to poll parents on how happy they are with their childs special ed services at their school. Just mailed mine back today.


  9. kilroysdelaware

    Newarkmom, I got a special friend in Dover and I’ll run it by him tomorrow.


  10. kilroy

    Please note for accuracy’s sake, that this is not all special education students, as I understand it, but those whose permanent function is significantly below grade level. I’m not disagreeing with the general outrage here (after all, I raised the issue) but I want to be sure you have details right.


  11. Steve, it is for students that cannot take DCAS and must take alternative tests like the Delaware Alternative Portfolio Assessment (DAPA). My issue with that is if DAPA is aliged to curriculum standards and the child is on grade level, but just cannot do take the accountability test without what is called a reasonable accomodation, they are placed in the group of diploma ineligible.

    It does not reflect their intelligence, accomplishment or merit. I know this is the point your are making so thanks! Just adding some detail.


  12. montagnebeau

    Kilroy, I’ve been running it by folks in Dover for years. They won’t get behind it. Lowery flat out refused, insisting that Delaware will never give all spec ed diplomas. She tried to hide behind NCLB. But, if you read the blog posts through this link http://www.elizabethscheinberg.blogspot.com/search?q=diploma you’ll learn that other states have figured out how the do it. Delaware just lacks the political courage to say that all children regardless of their type of disability that complete school by age 21 have earned what all the “typical” kids have.


  13. kilroysdelaware

    Thank you Steve. As you know my passion gets intense and I think montagnebeau hit the nail on the head, Delaware just lacks the political courage.

    Thanks John!

    You know, our system has no problem handing out diplomas to student who have been socially promoted and handed a diploma under false pretense. Perhaps there should be a high school exit test that determines a diploma or certificate for all students. Apparently handing a Special Ed student a diploma devalues the integrity of a diploma. Its kind of odd we have a political and education Dover leadership system that often concerns us when it comes to integrity.yet for integrity sake we hold those in most need to higher standards.

    Montagnebeau, I’ll take the ball and try to run it up the hill (Dover) again as you did (thank you). I see it this way, failure is more about giving up rather failing once and accepting the outcome. If I crash and burn I’ll take comfort in knowing I tried.

    Steve, I reflect as I go and learn from all here even dondestroychristina. A thought just came to mine in that will those with a GED want the same compassion, I would say no because in the case of Special Ed students, they put in the time and effort and didn’t give up. Though a high school diploma is a measurement of an academic achievement it also represents perseverance.

    A big question for you educators out there?? What is your opinion? Will it hurt the integrity of the High School Diploma by giving them to Special Ed student who have successful met their obligation to the best of their ability?


  14. Isn’t this similar to grading schools? Academics are only part of a schools story and only part of a students development. I would go for a simple pass/fail test to graduate and get the vaunted diploma but the powers won’t go for it. Imagine is a non-“special ed” kid failed the test! Imagine if 10%the of the “non-spec ed”kid failed! They don’t want to look in that mirror.


  15. kilroysdelaware

    You got it NCS Dad! “They don’t want to look in that mirror”

    If a high school diploma is highly valued there should be an exit test. Buy yes, the powers to be will not go for it.


  16. Diploma requirements are diploma requirements. 4 credits in math, english…etc. Otherwise, what does it mean?


  17. Kilroy – Not sure why WP reverted to part of my email address. But, I’d rather fail a thousand times in Dover on this issue that never try again. My own daughter runs a high probability of being diploma ineligible. I’ll take any and all help I can get getting this statewide “cell” (AYP-speaking) eligible for diplomas. Interesting fact – The Delaware Autism Program and Brennen School in particular rank SUPERIOR in AYP. However, most their students take the alternative assessment, previously DAPA and now called Alt-DCAS-II. Funny how at 18 months to graduation or age 21 program can rate SUPERIOR yet the majority of its students will never see a genuine diploma. These kids help the state’s rankings, but then are punished b/c no one has developed a standardized assessment that is Autism-proof (meaning it screens for true content knowledge and not limitations in expressions inherit to the autism diagnosis.)

    I find myself apologizing to my child’s teachers every DCAS cycle b/c I know her scores will eventually reflect in their evaluations. But, thus far, this child who is fully integrated in her school (albeit the school climate is one that already implements stratified supports as part of the classroom culture) and is successfully completing grade level work with little to no assistance, can’t navigate a standardized test even with accomodations. The test is literally testing her autism and not her knowledge. But, if I opt her into the ALT-DCAS-II, she will never receive a diploma. The ALT-DCAS-II will help her teachers receive more accurate evaluations, but will hurt my child. And that’s why I apologize to my teachers.

    Utterly Frustrating!



  18. Joanne Christian

    I gotta run to a school musical, but will explain later. Rest up.


  19. Hi I was just reading this. My mother graduated from high school in 1971 and yes she was also a Special Education student and also a cheerleader for the team. What I don’t understand is that her grades were good enough to be a cheerleader and participate in other extracurricular school activities why couldn’t she obtain a high school diploma. It’s not fair to anyone. Special education students walk on graduation day just like the rest of the graduating students so why can’t they receive the same thing as the rest of them. Now I see why my Mother struggled to get a decent job. The certificate is not a diploma nor ged. So what is it?


  20. Tirrell Murray

    Hello my is Tirrell Murray I was a sped but I no learning disabilities I stayed there for 12 years, however I did not pay for the certificate becase the certificate does not help me get into a good college, it was worthless to me. there is no such thing as a learning disability, if thats so how am I writing this i’d have to learn it. Its fake, just a way to seperate people so they dont have to give out more diplomas. Sad really its no hope for us you know . No diploma is like killing me how I am to survive in this harsh economy?