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505.1 Graduation Requirements

The following are the requirements for graduation for students to earn a Spirit Lake Community School District High School diploma:

1. The accumulation of a minimum of fifty (50) credits. One credit is earned for the successful completion of a semester of work in a full-credit class that meets every day unless designated as a competency based course. The specific course requirements are outlined elsewhere in this series of policies.

2. A student may be eligible for graduation when the number of credits have been obtained, but not before the end of the third year of high school.

3. The high school principal/designee shall submit a list of persons eligible for diplomas or certificates of attendance to the Board for approval in the month of May each year.

4. The Home School Assistance Program Coordinator shall submit a list of persons eligible for certificates of completion to the Board of Directors for approval in the month of May each year.

5. Students must have successfully completed the District and state requirements for graduation to be eligible for participation in graduation exercises. The only exception will be for extenuating circumstances involving unforeseen and unavoidable situations. Such exceptions may be made at the discretion of the high school principal/designee.

6. Any student may, after four (4) years of attendance, make-up their failed classes through correspondence work or by returning to school. When these failed classes have been made-up, the student may receive a regular diploma.

7. Required courses taken at a post-secondary institution, which are duplicates of courses offered at the high school, will not count toward graduation requirements unless a course has been previously failed at the high school.

8. A maximum of four (4) elective courses taken at a post-secondary institution may be counted toward meeting the graduation requirements. These courses must be approved in advance by the principal/designee.

9.  Graduation requirements for special education students will be in accordance with this policy, unless an individual student’s individualized Education Program (IEP requires some other arrangement.  This may include additional services or courses, if those additional services or courses are determined by an individual student’s IEP Team to be necessary for a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  The IEP Team may waive particular graduation requirements in the policy, based on a particular child’s disability-related needs. However, beginning with the graduation class of 2022, students receiving special education services shall meet the state requirement of completing four years of English-language arts, and three years each of mathematics, science, and social studies (known as 4-3-3-3), with support and accommodations as described in their IEPs for graduation with a regular high school diploma.  An IEP Team may determine, based on a particular child’s educational needs, how the 4-3-3-3 requirements are met; however, an IEP Team may not waive this requirement.

10. According to the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education:  “Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 14, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include:  a. Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and b.  The transition services, including courses of study, needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.” Prior to special education student’s graduation, the IEP team will determine whether the graduation criteria have been met.  The superintendent may provide a certificate of completion/attendance to those students receiving special education services who do not complete 4-3-3-3 based on their IEP.  Students who receive a certificate of completion/attendance remain eligible for special education services until they reach the maximum age of twenty-one.

11.  Core diploma: A core diploma will be available for individual students, recommended and approved by the administration.  The core diploma will require earning 40 credits for graduation (8 English/LA, 6 Social Studies, 6 Science, 6 Math, 3 Physical Education, 1 Financial Foundations, 1 Personal Wellness, 1 21st Century Skills, 1 Leadership and Service, 1 Fine Arts, 2 Career Technical, and 4 Elective which can include work credit). The core diploma offers a different graduation pathway for those individuals facing life events or not planning to attend a four year college following graduation. This diploma is accepted by junior colleges and the Armed Forces, but is not currently accepted by four year postsecondary schools. This diploma is only available to students approved by the administration.

12. At graduation, seniors with a GPA of 3.50 or higher will be awarded a gold seal indicating the student “Graduated with Honors.” Seniors with a GPA of 3.0 - 3.49 will be awarded a silver seal indicating the student “Graduated with Recognition.”


Approved: 5/13/13


Revised: 6/10/13; 6/10/19; 3/9/20; 9/13/21