High School Planning: Do You Need to Consider a Personal Curriculum (PC)?

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Contributed by Barbara Brish, Psy, SP, NCSP, Education Specialist, AAoM

Transitioning between schools, high school scheduling, annual IEP meetings, and informal brainstorming with school professionals are all potential opportunities to discuss the Personal Curriculum (PC) option. In the autism community, we have many families who struggle with the decisions surrounding what is informally described as ‘Certificate (of Completion) Track’ and ‘Diploma Track.’ For students who struggle the most with this decision, and the resulting trajectory of their academic life, we felt this would be good information to understand in more depth, and to share with your families.


“The legislative intent of the Personal Curriculum (PC) is to individualize the rigor and relevance of the educational experience and provide a tool to help ALL students succeed with the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC).”

Personal Curriculum Guidelines 2009

The PC legislation allows for greater flexibility of learning options for high school students. There are
various types of Personal Curriculums, including;

(1) those that go beyond academic credit requirements; or,

(2) modify math requirements; or

(3) modify requirements based on disability;
and lastly,

(4) those that can modify the credit requirements for transfer students.

What does a PC mean for a student with a disability?
• The ability to modify the student’s curriculum based on their needs and the programs/ services of the IEP.
• The ability to obtain a High School Diploma.
• The PC must also align with the student’s Transition Plan, Educational Development Plan (EDP) while maintaining rigor and relevance of the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC).
• The ability to modify any Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) content due to the impact a disability has on accessing or demonstrating proficiency in meeting expectations.

How does one decide on the need for a PC? Ask yourself the following questions:
• Is a PC in the student’s best interest?
• Will the student be able to meet post-secondary goals with a PC?
• Will the PC align with the IEP, Transition Plan, EDP?
• Will the modifications be appropriate and necessary for the student to learn/master the content?
• Would appropriate accommodations work or is there truly need for a PC?

Who creates the PC?
380.1278b5a, amended: (a) The personal curriculum shall be developed by a group that includes at least the pupil, at least 1 of the pupil’s parents or the pupil’s legal guardian, and a teacher described in this subdivision or the pupil’s high school counselor or another designee qualified to act in a counseling role under section 1233 or 1233a selected by the high school principal.

In addition, for a pupil who receives special education services, a school psychologist should also be included in this group. The teacher included in the group developing the personal curriculum shall be a teacher who is currently teaching the pupil, who currently teaches in or whose expertise is in a subject area being modified by the personal curriculum, or who is determined by the principal to have qualifications otherwise relevant to the group. This subdivision does not require an in-person meeting of the group.

PC Implementation:
• Local control – it has been strongly suggested that school districts have policies/procedures for PCs.
• When a PC is requested one must be developed.
• A PC must be approved by the Superintendent or Designee after being developed.
• PCs do not transfer from District to District.