Nearly 3,700 Alaskan students who were awarded certificates of achievement instead of their diplomas will receive a high school diploma in the next few months, thanks to state legislators.
When Gov. Sean Parnell penned his signature on House Bill 278, the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam was stricken from state law. It also required the Alaska school districts to issue diplomas retroactively to those students who received a certificate of achievement instead of a diploma. Certificates were only given to students who met their school district’s graduation requirements, but failed one or more portions of the HSGQE.
Erik McCormick, Director of Assessment Accountability and Information Management with the Department of Education and Early Development, says students who received certificates between 2004 and 2014 will be contacted by their graduating school districts over the summer.
“Those who have moved, though, will have to actively reach out to their schools,” McCormick said Monday. “The school districts will only likely have contact information that was valid while they were still enrolled.”
An estimated 3,700 students will be awarded their diplomas, nearly 1,000 of which are from the Anchorage School District. HSGQE data has been collected from individual school districts from around the state since the end of the 2004-2005 school year, according to McCormick, so an exact number of graduates with the class of 2004 is unavailable. Students from the 2014 class will also not be added to the list until July 15, but McCormick says the department and school districts will be working throughout the summer to fulfill the new requirements, which go into effect on July 1.
“We usually see an average of 350 students a year throughout the state,” McCormick explained. “So our available records show we had 2,963 between 2005 and 2013, plus the roughly 350 each from 2004 and 2014, but we’ll see how this year’s class does.”
All transcripts of affected students will be changed to include the new graduation status. Graduates who want a hard copy of their diplomas must send in a letter or email of request to their graduating school district.