High School Diploma Versus Certificate of Completion

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Do you know the difference between a high school diploma and a Certificate of Completion (CoC)? Find out what each means, and when your child may be awarded one or the other.

High School Diploma

Awarded to a student who has completed high school by meeting the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements.

Certificate of Completion (CoC)

This is given to a student who does not meet Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements, which are mandatory for a high school diploma. A student not meeting those requirements or taking those classes would get a certificate of completion. A CoC may be given to a student with an IEP who has an alternate curriculum, Michigan Alliance for Families says. Just because a student has an IEP does not automatically mean she'll get a CoC. If on track with Michigan Merit Curriculum, that student could still earn a high school diploma.

Young adults may receive their CoC at 18 when they finish school, or they may continue their education at a transition center, like DPS' Drew Transition Center, where they can work on life and job skills and be awarded their CoC at the end of their schooling there. In Michigan, students with a disability receive services through 26 years old.

Depending on your child, you may decide to disagree with your child getting a CoC. Deborah Love-Peel, special education specialist with Detroit Parent Network at Drew Transition Center's Parent Resource Center, says she pushed to get her daughter, who is deaf, a high school diploma when she finished school.

"You really have to know your child," she says. "There is a point where, as a parent, if you know your child well enough, you have to make the call."

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