Diploma Options in Special Education in Tennessee

Sep 11, 2019 | Blog, Family Engagement, Transition

In the state of Tennessee, there are four different options for diplomas when you graduate from high school for students receiving special education services.

These options are the regular diploma, the Alternate Academic Diploma (AAD), the Occupational Diploma, and the Special Education Diploma. If your child has an Individual Education Program (IEP), it is important to know the differences between these diplomas and what each may mean for your child’s future. You’ll also need to consider early on how taking alternate assessments in place of TCAP state testing will affect your child’s diploma options when they get to high school.

Below is a chart created by The Arc Tennessee which shows some basic comparisons between the four diplomas. IDEA stands for The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This is the federal law that ensures students who receive special education services have access to a free and appropriate public education with supports and services to meet their individual education needs.

The Tennessee Department of Education recently put out a graphic to help schools and families determine the best path for each student. The second chart is new and particularly helpful. Just click on the image to open it up to a readable size.

1 Tennessee State Board of Education, High School Policy 2.104 https://www.tn.gov/sbe/rules–policies-and-guidance/policies.html 2 For additional information on the postsecondary opportunities and considerations, visit the Parent Guide for Tennessee Diploma and Postsecondary Education Options at https://www.tnstep.org/uploads/files/STEP%20and%20TDOE%20Diploma%20and%20Postsecondary%20Options%20%20April%202018%20OS.pdf

You can learn more about the requirements for each of the diplomas from the Tennessee Department of Education at the following link (just scroll down and click on “Graduation Options”): https://www.tn.gov/education/student-support/special-education/special-education-secondary-transition.html
This chart from STEP TN gives more information about requirements for each diploma option, along with a student’s post-secondary options for each: TENNESSEE DIPLOMA AND POST-SECONDARY INFORMATION