Policies - Section 3500 » 3533 - Alternative Diploma for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

3533 - Alternative Diploma for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

3533 (IKFC) Alternative Diploma for Students with Cognitive Disabilities 3533 (IKFC)
A. PURPOSE. The purpose of this policy is to meet the requirements of the federal Every
Student Succeeds Act ("ESSA") to establish and allow the awarding of a District Alternate Diploma
to certain students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

B. INTRODUCTION. Under ESSA, states may adopt alternate content standards and alternate
assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. In states that have
adopted such alterative content standards, ESSA allows local school boards to adopt polices
allowing certain students with significant cognitive disabilities the ability to earn an Alternate
Diploma based on the alternative content standards.

An Alternate Diploma provides students who may have ordinarily earned certificates of
attendance, or completion under New Hampshire Administrative Rule Ed 306.27(q), with the
option to earn a diploma.

New Hampshire has adopted Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) as an alternate assessment
tool. The DLM assessment measures yearly student progress, and provides independent
standards which align with the NH Statewide Assessment.

Accordingly, this policy authorizes the District to award an Alternate Diploma in accordance with
the below requirements and conditions.


Consistent with ESSA, the Alternate Diploma may be awarded to students who:
  1. Have significant cognitive disabilities;
  2. Have a current Individualized Education Program ("IEP"); and
  3. Participate in the state authorized alternate assessment (currently DLM).
The Alternate Diploma is NOT available to students without IEP's, including students with Section
504 plans.


The determination to award the Alternate Diploma is the responsibility of the student's IEP team,
including the student's parent(s)/guardian(s). The IEP team's consideration of the appropriateness
of an Alternate Diploma should be included in transition planning beginning at age sixteen
(16). Details of this decision shall be included in the student's IEP transition plan in accordance
with Ed 1109.03.


The student may choose (individually or through the IEP team) to receive the Alternate Diploma at
one (1) of three (3) times:
  1. At graduation with common age peers;
  2. At the conclusion of the student's IEP; or
  3. Upon reaching age twenty-two (22).
If the student participates in the traditional graduation ceremony, the student will be included in the
graduation program with no difference in listing from his/her peers awarded a regular diploma.

  1. Under 34 CFR 300.102 (a)(3), the awarding of any document other than regular high
    school diploma shall not terminate a child's eligibility for a free and appropriate public
    education ("FAPE"). Accordingly, earning an Alternate Diploma does not end a student's
    eligibility for special education services. Rather, students who have earned the Alternate
    Diploma, and are otherwise eligible for special education services, may continue to receive
    such services and may continue working towards meeting the requirements for the regular
    high school diploma.
  1. Alternate Diplomas awarded under this policy are counted in the state graduation rate,
    while certificates of attendance or equivalency are not.

The Superintendent, with the assistance of the Executive Director of Student Support Services is
directed to establish and make available procedures and administrative rules to implement this
Legal References:
NH Statutes Description
RSA 186-C:2 Definitions
NH Dept of Ed Regulation Description
NH Code of Admin. Rules, Sect. Ed 1109.03 When an IEP is in Effect...Transition Services
NH Code of Admin. Rules, Sect. Ed 306.27(q)(4) Minimum Standards/High School Requirements/Equivalency Diplomas
Federal Regulations Description
34 CFR 300.102 (a)(3) 34 CFR 300.102 (a)(3)
34 CFR 300.320(b) 34 CFR 300.320(b)
34 CFR 300.43 34 CFR 300.43
Federal Statutes Description
20 U.S.C. §7801 (23) Every Student Succeeds Act
20 U.S.C. §8101 (a)(23) Every Student Succeeds Act
Adopted: December 4, 2023
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