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Parent and Student Graduation Resources

The resources in this section provide graduation-related information for students and parents about attendance, dropout prevention, college readiness, Graduation Summit, Employability Skills Certificate, plus links to transition or alternative programs for at-risk students, students with disabilities, and other youth.


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Compulsory Attendance Resources


Compulsory Attendance Resources

Answers to Frequently Asked Compulsory School Attendance Questions
This document outlines the rights and responsibilities related to attendance in Wisconsin public schools. It includes the responsibilities of both parents/guardians and public school officials to compel students to attend school on a regular basis.

Attendance/Truancy Policy and Procedures Review Checklist

This voluntary checklist has been developed by members of DPI’s Special Education Team to help school districts examine their policies, procedures and practices related to attendance and truancy and their impact on students with disabilities. Questions are based on state and federal statute and research-based best practices.

Homeschool Attendance FAQs
This page provides information regarding homeschool attendance especially for minor students.

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Graduation Resources

America’s Promise Alliance
Dropout prevention resources including Grad Nation Guidebook: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle the Dropout Crisis, a new tool comprising the best evidence-based practices for keeping young people in school paired with suggestions for effectively preparing them for life after high school.

Early and Middle College High Schools

Early and middle college high schools partner with institutions of higher education to offer all enrolled students an opportunity to earn and Associate’s degree or up to two years of college credits toward the baccalaureate while in high school, as well as a high school diploma. The initiative is based on the assumption that engaging under-represented students in a rigorous high school curriculum that is tied to the incentive of earning college credits will motivate them and increase their access to and success in additional postsecondary education after high school.

Technical Education High School Diploma

2011 Wisconsin Act 156 permits a school board to grant a technical education high school diploma to a pupil who does all of the following: 1) Satisfies the credit requirements and earns the number of credits for high school graduation as established by statute and the school board; and 2) Successfully completes a technical education program, established by the school board, in one or more subjects.

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English Learners

Education Week: Stemming the Tide of English-Learner Dropouts

A new report outlines the causes, consequences, and possible solutions to the high dropout rates of English Learners.

What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on English Learners

This report builds on findings from earlier University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) reports to examine whether ninth-grade early warning indicators that are used to determine if students are on-track to graduate high school are as predictive of graduation for high school ELLs as they are for the general student population. It finds that course performance indicators are highly predictive of graduation for ELL students, and are actually more predictive than other EL-specific indicators, including English language proficiency level and whether students experienced interruptions in their education.

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Students with Disabilities

Community-based Transition Options for 18 to 21 Year Old Students with Disabilities

This guide shares a framework for planning community-based transition options for 18-21 year old students with disabilities. This tool will assist local districts in assessing needs and developing transition-focused options within a community-based environment. In addition, the guide assists districts to create a step-by-step process using practical activities and user-friendly forms. The forms have been created to identify student needs, analyze in-school and community resources, set priorities, develop meaningful action plans, and establish the process for evaluation.

Graduation Procedures for Students with Disabilities (DPI Information Update Bulletin 10.08)

This graduation bulletin developed by DPI’s Special Education Team provides information on how students with disabilities meet the high school graduation policies developed by the local school board.

Opening Doors to Employment: Planning for Life After School - A Handbook... (July 2008)

This guide deals with the future employment of students with disabilities. Employment includes jobs and careers, with or without support of outside agencies. It is designed to help students with disabilities take another step in preparing for “life after high school.” The activities should be completed with the assistance of the student’s parent, teacher, or guidance counselor.

Opening Doors to Postsecondary Education and Training: A Handbook for Students, School Counselors, Teachers and Parents (September 2007)

This guide deals with postsecondary education for students with disabilities. Postsecondary education includes many kinds of education and training programs, technical college degree and certification programs, apprenticeship experience, two- and four-year colleges, private trade schools, on-the-job training, and more.

Opening Doors to Self-Determination: Planning for Life After School - A Handbook...(February 2009)

This handbook deals with the skills students with disabilities will need after high school, including self-determination and self-advocacy skills.

Self-Determination Handbook with Forms

This training program helps students with disabilities learn self-determination skills and improve their ability to take responsibility for their post-high school lives.

Transition Action Guide for Post-School Planning

This Technical Assistance Guide (TAG) was developed to assist in the improvement of communication, coordination, and services for students with disabilities transitioning from school to work. It was designed to be useful for all persons and agencies (stakeholders) involved in the transition process.

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities

This website provides information about the requirements for transition services for Wisconsin students with disabilities, as well as related resources and materials. It includes links to the Wisconsin State Transition Initiative, which assists school districts in addressing the transition related requirements of IDEA and Wisconsin state law.

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Academic and Career Planning

This website contains resources to support district implementation of academic and career planning (ACP). Academic and Career Plans (ACPs), often referred to as Individualized Learning Plans, present an opportunity to improve academic achievement and post-secondary success for all students. Research validates how ACPs improve student motivation and engagement; foster increased school-family communication; aid goal setting, planning, and achievement; and enhance transitioning after high school.

Alternative Education

The alternative education program works with school districts to develop programs that help all students to be successful. Program ideas range from early intervention for at-risk learners that start the student off on the right track to programs for students who have lost their way entirely. For the student who has lost his or her way, this might include jail or detention-based education, credit acceleration, a behavior program or just an opportunity to come back to school and graduate. While the short-term goal of alternative education is to meet the needs of some students, the long-term goal must be to identify successful alternative education strategies and use these strategies as a basis for improving the learning opportunities for all children. Wisconsin law allows a school board to grant a high school diploma to a pupil who has not satisfied the credit requirements, if:

  • the student was enrolled in an alternative education program, and
  • the school board determines that the pupil has demonstrated a level of proficiency in the subjects for which credits are required equivalent to that which they would have attained if they had satisfied the credit requirements, Wis. Stat. sec. 118.33(1)(d).

The GED Option #2 allows authorized school districts to use the GED test battery to measure proficiency in lieu of high school credit for students enrolled in an alternative education program. A student who passes the GED tests and completes the other requirements for graduation is entitled to the traditional high school diploma.

Dropout Recovery Resource Guide

The Dropout Recovery Resource Guide was developed based on information and findings associated with the following activities whose goal was to identify effective dropout recovery programs, strategies and practices:

  • Literature search and review on effective dropout recovery practices and strategies;
  • Statewide survey of school district and charter school dropout recovery programs;
  • Identification of districts and charter schools with promising practices in dropout recovery;
  • Interviews with and site visits to districts, charter schools and college programs with potentially promising dropout recovery practices.

Dual Credit Programs

This brief examines state policies around dual credit. Dual credit programs are programs in which students participate in coursework for which they receive high school and postsecondary credit. Dual credit programs are a type of dual enrollment policy designed to promote college readiness and facilitate the transition to enrollment in postsecondary institutions. Dual credit delivery can take place in different settings from high school classrooms to college campuses and distance learning courses.

Fostering Innovation in Wisconsin Schools: Beyond Credits and Seat Time and Toward Innovative Practices that Lead to College and Career Readiness

The guide provides guidance to school districts about available flexibility in awarding credits, as well as issues districts may want to consider when seeking new or different approaches to instructional designs.

Graduation and Home Schooling
PI-1206 Homeschool Report (HOMER) 2010-2011 - In Wisconsin, high school diplomas are issued by public and private schools. A home-based private educational program does not lead to a traditional Wisconsin high school diploma. However, this webpage describes other options available to students in a homeschool situation.

Individual Learning Plan

See Academic and Career Planning.

Operation Fresh Start
Operation Fresh Start is a youth development program addressing core issues facing low-income communities: education, employment, crime prevention, affordable housing, and leadership development. At OFS, low-income young people ages 16-24 work toward their GED or high school diploma, learn job skills, and serve their communities by building affordable housing. In the process, they fundamentally change their lives and roles in society.

Wisconsin Employability Skills Certificate
The intent of the Wisconsin Employability Skills Certificate Program is to recognize a student's mastery of employability skills valued by employers, to help students explore a career interest, and to provide a state credential of student mastery of employability skills. The main strategy is to provide, within state guidelines, state certification of a broader range of local district school-supervised work-based learning programs. The employability skills in this program have been identified through the U.S. Department of Labor's Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) in partnership with educators, business, industry, and labor representatives. It will further serve to provide state certification to existing and new work-based learning programs including “regular” cooperative education programs, general work experience programs, etc.

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