Diploma or Certificate of Attendance?

by Carol Chandler-Wood


My daughter has been in resource classes throughout her school career.  She has not yet passed the Georgia High School Graduation Test in Science.  My understanding is that she will not receive a diploma at graduation, rather, a Certificate of Attendance even though she has good grades and works hard.  Is this true?


Students who are seeking a high school diploma in the state of Georgia must pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) in four content areas: English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science.  They must also pass the Georgia High School Writing Assessment. These assessments ensure that students who have qualified for a diploma have mastered essential academic content and skills. Students who have been diagnosed with a learning disability, like your daughter, or who have English as their second language, may receive accommodations based on their needs and the specifics of their Individualized Education Program (IEP), their Individual Accommodation Plan, or their ELL Testing Participation Committee plan.  Students with disabilities who are unable to participate in the state testing program, even with accommodations, are assessed with the Georgia Alternate Assessment.  The Science Graduation test has the highest failure rate amongst the other tests in the state and is considered to be more challenging than the others.

If a student does not pass all the required state tests but meets all other graduation requirements, he or she may be eligible for a Certificate of Performance or a Special Education Diploma, which is what you have probably heard people talking about. Students who have left school with a Certificate of Performance or a Special Education Certificate may return to re-take the graduation test(s) again, as often as necessary to qualify for a high school diploma.  Students have many opportunities during the eleventh and twelfth grades to take the tests.  Your daughter may want to consider attending preparatory classes before she attempts the science test again.  My experience of over 25 years in education has taught me that if a student prepares two to four hours each week for about two months, he or she will most likely pass the test the next time.  The minimum scale score needed in each area of the graduation test in order to pass is 500.

There are in place Graduation Test Waivers and Variances which you can learn more about on the State of Georgia’s Board of Education’s website, www.doe.k12.ga.us.  I would recommend that you visit this site to see if your daughter’s situation meets any of these waivers or variances if she decides not to prepare and attempt the test again.