Monday, May 28, 2012

The one with the special diploma

I  teach intensive academics language arts to 6th, 7th and 8th graders.
Around the time a student reaches their 14th birthday the uncomfortable decision about diploma options comes up during a student's IEP.
I despise the fact that we have to determine a students track of diplomas at such a young age, but unfortunately no one asked for my opinion.
Typically, 7th grade is the year the dreaded decision must be made. In order to earn a standard diploma a student must take general education classes and have a limited amount of intensive classes. Now a diploma options can change if a student switches from intensive to general education classes.
Well, one such 7th grader was put on a special diploma track and this decision did not sit well with him. I am not exactly sure what happened to this student, but after his IEP he turned into a new student. Very focused and determined to accomplish any task given to him.
here is one conversation that took place in class after his IEP:
Student: "Miss, can you believe that they are giving me a special diploma?"
Me: "Well, do you think you deserve a special diploma?"
Student: "Miss, do you see the work I am doing?"
Me: "Yes, and you are doing a fantastic job at it!"
Student: "Then why in the world am I getting a special diploma?"
Me: "Because you are taking all intensive classes"
Student: "Well, I am going to change my diploma. There is no way I am getting a special one!"
Me: "What changes are you going to make to determine you earn a standard diploma?"
Student: "Miss, I am going to make sure no one gets in my way on earning a standard diploma and if someone does get in my way they are going to have to deal with me!"
Me: "That sounds like an interesting plan."
Student: "You better believe it!"
if you could read the student part with a hint of a Hispanic accent it might sound better


  1. I think I have a similar job in New York City. (though we are a 6-12 grade school and I teach high school special ed as well). We don't make the "uncomfortable decision" we assume everyone should earn a "standard" diploma (we call it a Regent's diploma since there are 5 exits exams to pass as well as earning credits). The scary thing is I don't know which method it kinder, or more beneficial to the struggling student. We set a lot of kids up for failure and don't actually provide them with skills they could use to make better lives. I don't know what the answer is. I struggle with it daily.

  2. I feel the exact same way about setting kids up for failure and providing them with little skills they need to be successful! Thankfully FL is making some changes as far as diplomas go...we shall see!


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