Can my child use modifications and still earn a diploma?
According to IDEA 300.160, a state should “not preclude a student with the most significant cognitive disabilities who takes an alternate assessment aligned with alternate academic achievement standards from attempting to complete the requirements for a regular high school diploma.” Being in a general education class in and of itself doesn’t constitute being on a diploma track. Just like any other student who accesses a diploma, students have to be able to show mastery of the coursework to the level that’s required. However, if a student has not been able to meet the standards for a course that is required for graduation, attorney Grace Clark says there is a workaround. “Students, along with their school, can petition for a waiver under California Education Code section 56101. For example, it could look like this: A student who had been on a modified math curriculum and was not able to pass Algebra I, despite support and remediation from their school, still receives a high school diploma after obtaining a waiver for Algebra I.” She explains that while this strategy depends on each individual student, it can be used to help students who receive modifications obtain diplomas. Clark adds that when considering whether a child should pursue a diploma, it’s essential to weigh “the likelihood that the child can meet all the standards necessary to graduate with the benefits of working at a pace that is appropriate for them, among same-aged peers.” What is best for your child will depend on their strengths, needs, and individual goals.
For more about this topic, check out our article Accommodations and Modifications in the Classroom.