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Exit Options for High School Graduation

While no standardized national test has been implemented for use as a criterion in the granting of a high school diploma, states have developed several ways in which students may meet graduation requirements.

Standard Diploma

Each state offers a standard diploma to students who have met the regular requirements for graduation. These are commonly the completion of a minimum number of Carnegie Units or credits (with passing grades), an attendance requirement, and (in an increasing number of states) a passing score on an exit exam. "Honors" diplomas are variations of standard diplomas in which student achievers may choose elective courses or independent studies in addition to their core studies. Such diplomas may also indicate accelerated or advanced coursework.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) Diploma

Students with special needs may be offered an alternative way to earn a high school diploma through completion of individual education plans constructed specifically to the needs of the student. Some states allow modified coursework to count as standard coursework and, therefore, award a standard diploma; others offer "certificates of attainment" or "special certificate of completion" to indicate the student's fulfillment of special criteria for graduation.

Occupational Diploma

Several states offer work/study diplomas, the most effective of which are those offered in conjunction with exit exams, to ensure that elective coursework directed toward occupational interests does not compromise minimum skill levels in core subject areas.

Next Steps
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