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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 Program) that are being taught an “alternate” curriculum and taking the MI-Access alternate state assessment.
- Diploma Decisions Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
- Graduation Considerations for Students with Disabilities MDE
- Finishing High School: Certificate of Completion vs. Diploma Fact Sheet – English Family Matters
- Finishing yHigh School: Certificate of Completion vs. Diploma Fact Sheet – Arabic Family Matters
- Finishing High School: Certificate of Completion vs. Diploma Fact Sheet – Spanish Family Matters
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. 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.
School districts make their own decisions about participating in senior graduation activities. Parents can request a copy of their district’s policy.