Our local school told us at the IEP’s this year, that with changes in special education requirements(sound like national or federal changes)…that students in the special education program are now being encouraged to pursue a certificate of completion, as opposed to a diploma, when a special education student nears the end of their high school career. The reason being that for many of the students, the classes that they have already taken are not going to count towards graduation requirements. Therefore, they will end up going to school longer. For some students, it will mean that instead of 4 years of high school…they could end up attending classes in high school for up to six years.
I think this is very unfair. From what we have been able to understand so far, for those who insist upon a diploma as opposed to a certificate of completion…it will be almost impossible to attain. In our school here in Michigan, the special education students will be blended into some regular education classes; and, then they will have what they are calling a workshop, which is supposed to be more like a 30 minute homestudy class, where they are supposed to get more help with problem classwork. The issue is that many of those workshop teachers will be regular education teachers who are not trained to work with the special education students who require more help and in some cases specialized teaching techniques–something that will require more than 30 minutes time from a teacher who has to divide up those 30 minutes with a classroom of students who need help.
This feels like a social experiment that is going to go horribly wrong. I am frustrated because I have a child who is going to be caught up in the middle of these changes. I have a son who also is a special education student who graduated in the last few weeks…he was able to get a diploma. This is no small feat. In this day and age of financial uncertainty, anything you can do to improve your employability is important…having a diploma is better for getting a job than a certificate of completion when it comes to getting hired.
I was told by an administrative person that employers and schools of higher education are aware of these changes and are cooperating with these changes by honoring certificates of completion when it comes to going off to college or for getting jobs. I do not believe this is true. I firmly believe that most employers are unaware of these graduation requirement changes and will view a certificate of completion as being “less qualifying” for a job than a diploma.
First off, at this point…even many teachers and administrators are still trying to figure out exactly what all of these changes will mean for both staff and students. Many parents of special education students are not understanding how these changes will impact their families. It is the students who were already in high school and have completed a year or two or three towards graduation that are going to fall between the cracks. I am already being told of students who were Juniors this year, who have discovered that this impacts when they will “graduate” and are dropping out of school because they do not wish to go to school for an additional year, or two longer, than they had expected. When they also discover that many of them will not be able to get a diploma after all of their hard work….and will get something that appears to be less than a regular education student gets; I believe that even more students will drop out of school.
This is devastating; special education students are already at a disadvantage in many areas socially and in the job market. This is just one more (large) obstacle to having some level of independence and success. There needs to be a public outcry at the injustice of it all…on a local level and on a larger scale. Do you have any knowledge or experience with these changes?