What is the difference between a high school diploma and a certificate of completion?
A certificate of completion (CoC), unlike a high school diploma is not an academic credential. A high school diploma is awarded to students that have met the Michigan Merit Curriculum graduation requirements. A certificate of completion might be given to students with IEPs (Individual Education Plan) that are being taught an “alternate” curriculum and taking the MI-Access alternate state assessment.
How is it decided who gets a diploma and who gets a CoC?
A certificate of any type (completion, achievement, attendance, recognition, etc.) is not a regular high school diploma and should not be reported as such on any form that asks if an individual has achieved a high school diploma (for example, on a job application).
- Michigan law makes no reference to certificates and does not provide any definition of a certificate. Certificates are given, or not given, at the discretion of the local school district.
A student does not have to meet the criteria of the Michigan Merit Curriculum or maintain the grade requirement to receive a certificate of completion. A student with an IEP may focuses on meeting individualized goals and objectives. The student’s IEP team determines if he/she will receive a diploma or a certificate of completion. Accepting a certificate of completion can allow the student to participate in the senior graduation activities. A student who receives a certificate of completion is eligible to continue receiving special education services until the age of 26 per Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE) Rule 340.1702.