Indiana: New Bill Set To Give Special Diplomas For State’s SPED Students


Indiana’s special education students could receive their diplomas for the first time under the state’s House Bill 1426.

Indiana state officials and lawmakers untiringly worked on new House Bill 1426 in their bid to contain all four of the state’s current diploma offerings into two while still meeting the needed new federal requirements on reporting.

These two diplomas that are set to replace the old four ones are the new Indiana Diploma which is principally “new” in name only as it still encompasses the designations in the state diplomas it’s about to replace.

House Bill 1426 does have something novel under its hood – an alternative diploma that special education students of the state, who are not capable of earning the regular Indiana Diploma, can get.

Alternative Diploma For The Differently-Abled         


“This is a monumental leap,” said Kim Dodson, The Arc of Indiana’s executive director, a nonprofit organization for people with mental and developmental disabilities.

“Receiving a diploma means, they’re not just going to get a pat on the back and be on the receiving end of gratefulness for coming to school every day,” the director added.

Dodson stated that the movie just shows how these (differently-abled) kids are competent enough to earn diplomas of their own, learn the various skills needed to obtain this vital piece of paper and open doors of opportunities for them after high school.

What The New Diploma Offers

Yes, many special education students go to earn one of the state’s four diplomas currently offered to this date. However, there are a lot of kids with intellectual and developmental difficulties who couldn’t complete the set of requirements needed for these diplomas. And only certifications were afforded them as it was the only option.

These certificates are not alternatives to and not as-good-as high school diplomas. Therefore, students who are given them aren’t counted as high school graduates. As an effect, they couldn’t pursue opportunities open for those who got to graduate from high school. Additionally, being without a high school diploma is one massive hurdle for finding work.

The new alternative diploma could be a game-changer.

“For those who are of the high school diploma track, expectations are set at a low level,” Dodson voiced out. “We are sincerely hoping that the following endorsement and implementation of the alternative diploma would also significantly change the teaching these kids are getting.

The new federal education law ESSA or Every Student Succeeds Act brought about the state’s diploma changes.

ESSA: An Overview

Signed in December 2015, ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) replaced the No Child Left Behind policy as the primary legislation for the country’s K-12 public education system. While it was signed years earlier, its impact is set to affect schools in America just this school year – 2017 to 2018.

ESSA is one broad law that covers various education-related areas including kids with mental or developmental difficulties (which stats number as 1 in every five children).

The purpose of the new education law is to ensure that all public schools give quality education to their students including those who belong to these four main disadvantaged groups namely:

  • Students in the special education curriculum
  • Students within the poverty bracket
  • Minorities
  • Those whose English language skills are limited

One of its most vital factors is ESSA gives the parents of special education students the opportunity to determine if their children are getting the education that they need.

Most of all, the law offers grants and other literacy programs aimed at getting students to succeed in their lives.