Diploma Options & Post-Secondary Transition/Project 10

Diploma Options

IEP teams should utilize the Student Profile for Choosing a Standard or Special Diploma Option to facilitate such an important decision. For further information, refer to the DOE Publication on Diploma Choices to ensure the final decision will prepare the student for their post-secondary goals. Students receiving services through the ESE department may remain in school through the end of the school year in which they turn 22 to complete the requirements for their diploma choice. Upon graduation or ageing out of school, students must be provided a Summary of Performance. As students approach their 18th birthday, students and parents must be informed of their Transfer of Rights.

Standard High School Diploma

Students working toward a standard high school diploma may choose their track from choices such as standard classes, honor classes, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Program, or Dual Enrollment. In addition, students may select their major of study for high school. Students receiving services in Exceptional Education may utilize accommodations, related services, therapies and other supports to facilitate their success. For further information about these options, refer to the Pupil Progression Plan. Graduation with a Standard High School Diploma constitutes a change of placement and requires prior written notice.

Option I & II Diploma

Students choosing to work toward an option I or II diploma must meet the criteria set forth in the Student Progression Plan. Students may choose to work in standard and ESE classes to meet their needs. Supports such as therapies, accommodations/modifications, related services and other services may be utilized to facilitate student success. Collaboration with outside agencies may also be coordinated to complete transition services for post-secondary success.

Certificates of Completion

Students who are unable to meet graduation requirements for a diploma may receive a certificate of completion. A certificate of completion is not a diploma. It certifies that a student attended high school but did not meet all graduation requirements for a diploma. Two types of certificates of completion are available.

A regular certificate of completion may be given to any student pursuing a standard diploma that passes the required courses in high school but fails to pass the State Assessment test or achieve the required grade point average. Students with disabilities who are eligible for a regular certificate of completion have the option of graduating with Special Diploma Option I instead.

 A special certificate of completion is available to student with disabilities who are unable to meet all of the graduation requirements for a special diploma. The special certificate of completion certifies that the student passed the required ESE courses in high school, but failed to master the Sunshine State Standards for a Special Diploma.

FCAT Waiver

The Enhanced New Needed Opportunity for Better Life and Education for Students with Disabilities (ENNOBLES) Act, passed by the 2003 Legislature, requires that each district school board provide instruction to prepare students with disabilities to demonstrate proficiency in the skills and competencies necessary for successful grade-to-grade progression and high school graduation. The ENNOBLES Act also provides, in Section 1003.43(11)(b), Florida Statutes (F.S.), for the waiver of the FCAT requirement for graduation with a standard diploma for certain students with disabilities who have met all other requirements for graduation with a standard diploma, except a passing score on the FCAT. In order for the FCAT graduation requirement to be waived, the individual educational plan (IEP) team must meet during the student’s senior year to determine whether or not the FCAT can accurately measure the student’s abilities, taking into consideration allowable accommodations. “Senior year” refers to the first time that a student has enough credits to be classified as a senior, and to those students with disabilities who have elected to remain enrolled in order to seek a standard diploma. In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities may receive services through the public school system through age 21 (i.e., until their 22nd birthday or, or at the option of the school district, the school year in which the student turns age 22) or until they graduate with a standard diploma, whichever occurs first. Consistent with the provisions of Section 1003.43(11)(a), F.S., any senior who has not achieved a passing score on the FCAT must receive intensive remediation. For a full explanation of the requirements for consideration of the FCAT Wavier, refer to the FCAT Waiver Form.

FCAT Exemption:

A request may be made to the Commissioner for an exemption under extraordinary circumstances for a student with a disability with an individual educational plan (IEP) (learning process deficits and cognitive deficits do not constitute extraordinary circumstances). The student may be exempt from any or all sections of the test required for high school graduation with a standard diploma.

The written request must meet all of the following criteria:

Come from the district school superintendent at least one semester before the anticipated graduation date submitted on district letterhead via US mail to Dr. Cornelia Orr, Florida Department of Education, Office of Assessment and School Performance, 325 West Gaines Street, Suite 414, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0400

Be due to extraordinary circumstances that would cause the test to reflect the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills rather than the student’s achievement include the following documentation:

A written description of the student’s disabling condition, including a specific description of the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills and the extraordinary circumstances of the request;

Written documentation of the most recent and other available re-evaluation or psychological reports and course transcript;

A written description of the disability’s effect on the student’s achievement;

A written description of accommodations or modifications provided in the student’s high school course of study;

Written evidence that the student has had the opportunity to learn the skills being tested, has been prepared to participate in the testing program, and has been provided appropriate test accommodations;

Written evidence that the manifestation of the student’s disability prohibits the student from responding to the written test even when the appropriate accommodations are provided, so that the result of the testing reflects the student’s impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills rather than the student’s achievement;

Written description of academic accomplishments indicating mastery of skills assessed on the graduation test;

Evidence the student has met all of the criteria for graduation with a standard diploma.

FL Alternate Assessment

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires students with disabilities to be included in each state’s system of accountability and that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) also speaks to the inclusion of all children in the states accountability system by requiring states to report student achievement for all students as well as for specific groups of students on a disaggregated basis.

To provide an option for participation of all students in the state’s accountability system, including those for whom participation in the general statewide assessment (FL Comprehensive Assessment Test – FCAT) is not appropriate, even with accommodations, Florida has developed the Florida Alternate Assessment. The alternate assessment design for Florida is based on the Sunshine State Standards Access Points for students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities in Language Arts (Reading & Writing), Mathematics and Science. Access Points represent the essence of the Sunshine State Standards with reduced levels of complexity: Participatory, Supported and Independent with the Participatory level being least complex. The Florida Alternate Assessment was developed to allow students the opportunity to progress through all three levels of complexity per item. This tiered process provides students the opportunity to work to their potential for each item in each content area. This is critical as educators seek to provide access to the general education curriculum and foster higher expectations for the wide diversity of students with cognitive disabilities. It is expected that only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are eligible under IDEA will participate in the Florida Alternate Assessment.

Participation Guidelines – The following are questions to guide the decision-making process to determine whether a student will participate in the FCAT or the FL Alternate Assessment. The IEP team must determine ALL FIVE questions accurately characterize a student’s current educational situation in order for the student to participate in Alternate Assessment.

Is the student unable to master the Sunshine State Standards even with appropriate and allowable course accommodations?

Is the student’s demonstrated cognitive ability the primary reason for the inability to master these standards?

Is the student participating in a modified curriculum based on the competencies in the Sunshine State Standards Access Points for all academic areas?

Does the student require extensive direct instruction in academic and vocational competencies as well as domestic, community living and leisure activities?

Does the student have deficits in adaptive behavior, as demonstrated by the inability to function effectively and independently in everyday living skills (interpersonal and social interactions) across a variety of settings?

Post-Secondary Transition

Students may continue to work toward mastery of their IEP goals and requirements for graduation through the end of the school year in which they turn 22 so long as they do not graduate with a standard diploma. The Flagler Transitions Program is designed for students between 18 and 22 who have earned a Special Diploma or Certificate of Completion and continue to require additional support and services to achieve their post-secondary goals Students must have completed graduation requirements or be eligible to complete requirements within their first year in the program. An IEP team will determine eligibility to this program as well as mastery and completion of the program or meeting exit criteria.

Project 10: Transition Education Network

The mission of Project 10: Transition Education Network, hereinafter referred to as "Project 10," is to assist Florida school districts and relevant stakeholders in building capacity to provide secondary transition services to students with disabilities in order to improve their academic success and post-school outcomes. Project 10 serves as the primary conduit between the Florida Department of Education, specifically the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS), and relevant school district personnel in addressing law and policy, effective practices, and research-based interventions in the area of transition services for youth with disabilities. For more information, please click on the icon below:


Project10 Transition Education Network