Survey regarding Colorado State-defined Alternate Diploma for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

CDE is collecting comments to determine the need for a Colorado state-defined alternate diploma for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Title 1 of the 2015 reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows for the inclusion in graduation accountability of a diploma option for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Three options have been drafted, and CDE is asking for feedback from stakeholders around the state.  Please look over the options the State is considering and then take the quick survey to have your voice heard.

Link to provide feedback (survey will close on December 3, 2018):
Click Here for Survey

  • Option 1 – Current Status

    Regular Diploma Only

    No State-Defined Alternate Diploma

    • Continue with one high school “regular” diploma
    • Graduation guidelines will remain in place
    • Everyone who meets or exceeds the graduation requirements set forth by the district will receive a “regular” diploma

    Possible Implications

    • Currently, students with a significant cognitive disability that receive a regular diploma:
      • Will be counted as a graduate for state accountability purposes only
      • Student’s right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) terminates upon graduation or reaching age 21
    • A student with a significant cognitive disability who is issued a non-diploma certificate or a diploma not fully aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards, would not count as a graduate for federal/state accountability

    Option 2 

    Require a State-Defined Alternate Diploma

    • In addition to a regular diploma achieved through existing graduation guidelines, add a state defined alternate diploma required for students who are assessed using the alternate assessment aligned to Colorado’s Extended Evidence Outcomes.

    Possible Implications

    • Students who receive an alternate diploma:
    • Will be counted as a graduate for federal and state accountability
    • Can continue to receive FAPE to age 21

    Option 3

    District Choice – Offer a Regular Diploma with the Option of a State-Defined Alternate Diploma

    Possible Implications

    • If a student with a significant cognitive disability is issued a non-diploma certificate or diploma not fully aligned with the Colorado Academic Standards they would not count as graduates for federal accountability; FAPE ends when the student receives a regular high school diploma
    • Students with a significant cognitive disability who receive a state defined alternate diploma, will be counted as graduates for state and federal accountability; however, FAPE does not end and students may receive services through age 21

Heidi Graber
Integrated Services Parent Liaison
970-490-3225
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