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Lake Central prepares to offer alternate diploma for students with disabilities


Local school districts are preparing to roll out a new alternate diploma for students with cognitive disabilities.

Up until now, students with more significant needs who didn't take traditional graduation assessments like the SAT were only able to get a certificate of completion. The new alternate diploma will recognize those students' academic and job skills training work, according to Becky Gromala, director of student services at the Lake Central School Corporation.

"It really should help with their employability after high school because they will be leaving with an actual diploma, rather than just the certificate of completion," Gromala told the Lake Central School Board on Monday.

The Indiana State Board of Education approved the alternate diploma in January, after years of discussions. It requires students to earn a combination of 40 high school credits and applied units — and complete work training activities.

School districts also stand to benefit from improved graduation rates. "So that's another important piece to us because we had a pool of students who were progressing through school doing a lot of hard work but then were essentially counting against us in our graduation rate," Gromala explained.

She said Lake Central will be ready to start awarding alternate diplomas this spring.