School districts strive to provide appropriate academic instruction, pre-vocational experiences, work skills training and opportunities, life skills training and applicable life experiences for all students that address transitioning to employment and post-secondary educational options and services. In light of all the changes regarding high school curriculum and graduation requirements it is necessary for school districts to consider the impact of the changes on special education students. While students must meet more rigorous requirements in order to obtain a high school diploma, staggering dropout rates of high school special education students are an additional challenge that speaks to the need for options in special education programming. The high school requirements that govern all students are but one portion of the regulations that are applied to special education. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) provide an outline of mandates for special education programs, services and compliance responsibilities, with sanctions for noncompliance.
Students receiving special education supports and services are provided with the opportunity to work through their high school experience with individual educational learning plans that lead them to obtaining either a High School Diploma or a Certificate of Completion. Providing for each learner to develop his/her individual potential and to support an educational program that meets individual student’s needs leading to graduation and a High School Diploma based upon the MMC is the opportunity for the development of a personal curriculum, when appropriate. Obtaining a Certificate of Completion is the result of a thorough academic and employability skills program, focusing on functional academics, independence, communication and social skills.