Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Possessing a Certificate of Completion blocks its holder for life from serving in the armed forces, obtaining federal loans, and pursuing further education and accreditation.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Origins: This exhortation to eschew "Certificates of Completion" (CoC) began circulating in the online world in April 2006. While not everything in it is wrong (its claim that a CoC is not a diploma is correct, for instance), most of its claims are untrue. Topping the list of untruths is its assertion that those who accept CoCs are for the rest of
In general, a Certificate of Completion signals that its holder has indeed completed required course work in high school and has met that aspect of the school's graduation requirements. Such recognitions are typically given to students who, while they have fulfilled the coursework required of them from year to year, failed to pass key exit exams.
Each state sets its own high school graduation requirements and determines what aspects of secondary school education its students need to satisfy to qualify for high school diplomas (versus Certificates of Completion). Despite what the
CoC holders are not barred from obtaining high school diplomas. They can also serve in the armed forces (provided they meet the entry requirements of whichever branches of the service they are interested in) and obtain federal loans (with the exception of student aid loans to underwrite further education, as such loans require applicants to possess high school diplomas or GEDs). The
As for students' entering trade schools, CoCs alone will likely not open those doors because such institutions usually require applicants to have either high school diplomas or GEDs, and CoCs are neither of those. However, given that CoC holders can still obtain their high school diplomas, having CoCs does not (as the
False statements regarding graduation requirements and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) are being circulated viaIndiana's Department of Education web site provides more detail about Certificates of Completion, including answering the question of what purpose they serve.
The hoax e-mails contain numerous inaccuracies, including the relationship between state graduation requirements and No Child Left Behind, the ability to receive federal loans, and descriptions of state law and schools in Indiana and Illinois.
Each state sets its own requirements for high school diplomas, General Educational Development tests (GED) and "Certificates of Completion." NCLB does not change those state definitions, but does require, for NCLB purposes, that states calculate a graduation rate that is based on a "regular high school diploma." In practice, this means that a GED or "Certificate of Completion" does not count positively in the graduation rate calculation.
Similarly, most colleges and most trade schools require a high school diploma or its equivalent for entrance, so anyone holding a certificate of completion would need to go back and complete the necessary academic requirements to get a diploma before they can apply for admission to the school, and apply for federal student aid. This requirement existed before the No Child Left Behind Act.
In addition, according to Indiana officials, there are several inaccuracies about Indiana in the
The e-mails also include the erroneous claim that NCLB was "revised" in 2004. In fact, NCLB was enacted on
For additional information about the No Child Left Behind Act and other education initiatives, please visit the Department's Web site at http://www.ed.gov.
For additional information, the general public may also call 1-800-USA-LEARN (872-5327).
Barbara "sheepskinflint" Mikkelson
Last updated: 31 May 2006
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.