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Is My Child on Track to Graduate?

Photo of student and tutor

The graduation process must start when the student enters 9th grade, in part to help the student, parent, and the rest of the IEP team discuss whether the student has a course of study to obtain necessary graduation requirements. A high school diploma, or GED equivalent, is the minimum education required for many jobs or college application processes.

It is required that the IEP team documents in writing whether your child is planning to receive:

  • A standard high school diploma
  • Certificate of IEP

Standard High School Diploma

For a detailed list of requirements, visit Graduation Requirements.

To graduate from high school, a student must complete all necessary requirements for graduation, including receiving passing grades on required coursework, having a good attendance record, completing community service hours and participating in any final testing.

If a child attends a non-public school and is planning on graduating with a high school diploma, he or she must meet DCPS graduation requirements, not the non-public school’s requirements.

Certificate of IEP

Requirements for Certificate of IEP Completion

A Certificate of IEP Completion is earned by students with disabilities who have mastered their IEP goals, completed high school coursework, but have not completed the requirements for a Standard High School Diploma. To earn a Certificate of IEP Completion, students must earn 24.0 credits as follows:

Certificate of IEP Completion Core Subject Area Courses and Electives Credits
English 4.0
Concepts of Mathematics 4.0
Concepts of Science 4.0
Concepts of Social Studies 4.0
Learning Labs 3.0
Electives 2.5
Health and Physical Education 0.5
Transition Coursework 2.0
Total  24.0 Credits

The IEP team must decide and approve that pursuing a Certificate of IEP Completion is the best course of study irrespective of earned credits. The following guidelines must be used to identify whether a student is appropriate for the Certificate of IEP Completion:

A student MAY BE a candidate to pursue a Certificate of IEP Completion if:

  • The student took the Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) exam in eighth grade or will take the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) exam in the future, or
  • The student has a significant cognitive disability within the following range (≤55-60)* as documented by IQ and Adaptive Scored which impact the student’s ability to meet the requirements for earning a Standard High School Diploma

A student IS NOT a candidate to pursue a Certificate of IEP Completion if:

  • The student is 20 years old or younger and is 5 credits or less away from earning a DCPS Standard High School Diploma.
  • The student has satisfactorily completed all coursework required to earn a diploma, but does not have 100 hours of community services, or
  • It has been documented that the student has earned credits toward a DCPS Standard High School Diploma, and has the ability to earn additional credits to complete the remaining Standard High School Diploma requirements by age 22, or
  • The student has fewer than 5 credits after being introduced to DCPS graduation requirements for a minimum of 3 consecutive years, and has not had the opportunity to participate in the following interventions:
    • Tier 2 or 3 Reading Interventions
    • Attendance plans
    • Behavioral supports or a behavioral intervention plan (BIP)
    • Instruction using Credit Recovery resources


Depending on whether the student and their IEP team select the Standard High School Diploma or the Certificate of IEP Completion, a student may require more than 4 years in high school. “A child with a disability found by the Local Education Agency (LEA) to be eligible for special education and related services shall remain eligible through the end of the semester he or she turns twenty-two,” [District of Columbia Municipal Regulations 5-E D.C.M.R. § 3002.1(b)].

In DCPS, IEP teams must always pursue, or assess the feasibility of, the Standard High School Diploma before considering the Certificate of IEP Completion. Ultimately, the student’s preferences, abilities, and plans for post-secondary options, as well as how the student communicates this information, should be the most influential factors in deciding whether to pursue a Standard High School Diploma or a Certificate of IEP Completion. The IEP team members must also rely on quantitative factors and information recorded in the student’s IEP as guidance. Quantitative factors considered may include but not be limited to:

  • Standardized assessments
  • Informal academic assessments created by the school
  • Benchmark assessments
  • Behavioral assessments
  • Any other information yielding data that informs instruction

This information must be tempered with the student’s preferences, abilities, and plans to comprehensively provide and appropriate educational course of study for the student.