Differentiated Diplomas

I often wonder if a partial solution to helping colleges, trade schools, and employers determine the worthiness of students for their programs and businesses is the diploma itself. I anticipate my solution will not be popular among certain groups, but I do think it could eliminate some of debate over assessing student backgrounds and achievement.

My rough idea for four diplomas, which I would probably color code rather than officially name:

1 – The first diploma would be one where the student took the most rigorous coursework available, essentially an honors diploma for most students. Students could have their coursework scored on a points basis, and if enough points are earned then they would receive this diploma.

2 – The second diploma would be for students who took the mainstream (“normal” or typical) courses available to them when they have not earned enough points for the first diploma.

3 – The ELL (ESL) diploma for students who took a number of sheltered or ELL courses rather than reaching the basic standards or taking the basic course load of the mainstream student.

4 – The special education diploma for students with a large number of special education courses as part of their academic course loads. If the special education courses were merely support for the mainstream courses, then the second diploma would be earned.

These are just rough thoughts but make me wonder if it could be a potential assistance to determining or assessing student achievement. It may even lead to the elimination of the vast monies spent on testing and instead spent on more direct means of assisting students.

Just an idea I think about from time to time.


8 thoughts on “Differentiated Diplomas

  1. Dr Pezz

    My initial thought is that the diploma color itself would reveal what level of coursework was completed to illustrate the rigor and challenge the students accomplished since the first scrutiny of the transcript, according to the college advisors with whom we spoke, is the level of coursework attempted.

    If all students did not earn the same diploma regardless of rigor and success, then maybe this would entice students to reach higher and allow employers and colleges to narrow their searches for applicants by looking first at the most challenging diplomas earned and so on down the line.

    Like I said, I’m sure there’s much I haven’t pondered, but I’m curious how this might affect admissions and hirings.

    I get a sense that officials of all types want students to earn diplomas and they want to raise standards simultaneously, so this could allow both without harming students in the process.

    Sigh! Rough thoughts. 🙂

  2. Betty

    I like the idea of the different colors for diplomas. It might make kids think a little bit about the courses they plan to take. By the way, I love the snow.

  3. agiddings

    When I fill out recommendations for college (I teach AP at a small high school), they often ask how challenging a course load students took relative to what is available at their school. This allows for the fact that my school only offers 3 AP classes due to staffing constraints, whereas another larger school nearby offers 16 AP classes. That is an issue that we’d need to allow for in differentiated diplomas as the education available to all top students is not equal.

  4. drpezz Post author

    I wonder how schools’ transcripts are affecting students when many use an extra 1.0 for honors and AP courses.

    I do think students should receive more credit of some type (whether a different diploma, GPA, or other), especially in the day and age when some courses could be taught through distance learning and through the internet. Obviously some courses could not be taught this way (labs for example), but many can. This could reduce the gap for schools not offering as many upper level courses.


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