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Diploma or Certificate?

Transition planning for Indiana students with disabilities should include discussions about graduation options and the decision to pursue a diploma or a certificate. The videos below illustrate some of the types of issues that students and families may encounter in middle school and high school. The resources beneath the videos provide more information about specific diploma options and requirements and about other factors to consider.


Exploring the Options in Middle School


Making the Decision in High School

More Information and Resources

  • Indiana Diploma Decisions, a guide for Hoosier families and their students with disabilities. (A publication of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center and the Southeast Cadre of Transition Leaders. 2015-2016)
  • Indiana's Diploma Requirements
  • Certificate of Completion/Diploma FAQs Adapted from "Special Education: Frequently Asked Questions," Indiana Department of Education.
  • Diploma and Certificate Decision Graphic
  • Core 40, Core 40 Academic Honors, and Core 40 Technical Honors Requirements
  • General Diploma Requirements
  • "Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options: What Families Need to Know," Larson, Mindy Richards, Curtis & Wills, Joan (December 2010-January 2011). Our Children. In addition to an overview of the various types of diploma options offered in many states, this article contains a list of suggestions and activities for families who are helping their students with disabilities understand graduation requirements, establish college and career goals, and make the diploma or certificate decision that is relevant for the student.
  • Accommodations vs. Modification-Parents, teachers, and students should learn the difference between accommodation and modification in both instructional and testing environments. When the learning expectations for a student have frequently been modified in elementary and middle school, parents and students can be surprised when the student reaches high school and find that similar modifications are not available for Indiana statewide assessments, such as the End-of-Course Assessment for algebra, English or biology or for national college entrance tests, such as the ACT and SAT.

    Accommodations help remove barriers and can be used for instruction or testing. They do not change course content or expectations. An accommodation in testing or instruction—which must be previously agreed upon in a case conference committee discussion and is then written into the student’s IEP—might include having a test read aloud, or the option to take the test in a quiet room. Talk with your team about what accommodations should be used in high school and on state standardized tests. Note, however, that allowable accommodations can vary for college entrance and placement tests. Parents, teachers and students interested in postsecondary education, should talk with their guidance counselor and review the accommodation information available on the ACT and SAT websites.

    Modifications are changes to course content, required work, or instructional level. If your student is considering a diploma track, ask your teachers about gradually reducing or eliminating any modifications your middle school student may be using. Modifications include things like requiring a student to complete only half of the work that other students complete, or providing him/her with simpler material, or testing the student on different content.

    For more information on the differences between accommodation and modification, see the PEAK Parent Center's Accommodations & Modifications Fact Sheet.