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Diploma or Certificate?

The “diploma or certificate” issue is disturbing and it seems patently unfair to students—whose progress and basic education are often held hostage by school policies that leave students segregated and uneducated. But with the love, vision, and creativity of their families, the futures of young people with disabilities are bright!

Kathie Snow

Sixteen-year-old Deanna was on the honor roll. She was a successful student in 10th-grade regular ed classrooms, and the school provided curriculum modifications to ensure Deanna would be involved and make progress in the general ed curriculum (per Federal Special Ed law). Everything was hunky-dory—this determined teen was proud of herself, and her parents were overjoyed. Deanna, who was born with Down syndrome, had been in inclusive classrooms throughout her school career. She was looking forward to receiving her diploma at graduation, then working toward a two-year degree at the community college.

Imagine the shock and dismay when Deanna and her parents learned that she would not be awarded a high school diploma, but only a “Certificate of Attendance.” Her mother, Maxie, was astounded and outraged! “But my daughter is on the honor roll,” she exclaimed to the school counselor. That didn’t matter. According to the school’s guidelines . . . Click here to continue.