This is the fourth in a series of articles about transition planning. This article focuses on the pending changes in the high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities. The proposed changes are expected to be finalized at the November 18th meeting of the State Board of Education.
If your child entered 9th grade prior to the 2014-2015 school year, he/she will continue on the same track towards earning a standard or special diploma. If your child entered 9th grade in the 2014-2015 school year, the pending changes are relevant to you. The first thing to know is that a course-of-study working towards a diploma must be chosen in the 9th grade. If your child is on an IEP, the course-of-study must be documented on the TIEP (transition individual education plan).
The proposed new rule (6A-1.09963 Florida Administrative Code) outlines new requirements that students with disabilities (including those with cognitive disability who take the alternate assessment) may follow to earn a standard diploma. An explanation of the requirements is too complex for this short article. You will find the proposed new rule at https://app1.fldoe.org/rules/default.aspx. You still have the opportunity to provide comments regarding the proposed new rule to the Department of Education prior to the November 18th meeting of the State Board of Education.
The decision to accept or defer the standard high school diploma must be made during the school year in which your child is expected to meet all the requirements for the standard diploma, and the decision is to be noted on the IEP. The IEP team must review the benefits of deferring the standard diploma to enable continuation of education and related services (through age 21), and must document the rationale in writing.
As defined in the new high school graduation requirements, if your child does not achieve the required grade point average, or does not achieve proficiency on required assessments, he/she will receive a “certificate of completion” rather than the standard diploma. The special diploma option has been eliminated.
The person most knowledgeable about the new high school graduation requirements for students with disabilities is the Guidance Counselor. Be sure to invite him/her to your child’s 9th grade IEP meeting.