Join Fellow LaTEACH Members!
Put on your Purple  
SEAP needs to hear your voice!
December 13, 2013


It's time to let the Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) know how you feel about:
  • Student promotion policies

Has your child been held back too long?

  • High school diplomas
Did you know other states don't use test performance to deny students access to diplomas like is done in Louisiana?
  • Guidance on testing/accountability of high school students not pursuing a high school diploma.
Did you know the state decided the transition page of your child's IEP (not the front page) is what determines whether your child is pursuing a diploma or not (and these two pages do not always agree with one another)?
The La. Department of Education is creating documents to establish criteria for moving kids off of a diploma track.  How will this impact your child?
Join other LaTEACH members at the SEAP meeting next Thursday:
WHEN:         December 19, 2013


WHERE:       Claiborne Building, Room 1-151 (Iowa Room)

1201 N. Third Street

Baton Rouge, LA  70802


Click HERE to see the agenda for the December 2013 SEAP meeting.  

Need a purple LaTEACH shirt?  Contact your 
LaTEACH Regional Leader or email

What To Do?

LaTEACH members are encouraged to attend SEAP meetings and share their thoughts and concerns with SEAP members.  LaTEACH promotes policies and practices to reflect the best interest of ALL students.


LaTEACH members are also encouraged to contact SEAP Members and let them know how you feel.  Cindy Arceneaux, the co-Chair of SEAP shares all SEAP related comments sent to her with all other SEAP members.  Send your thoughts and comments to


Additional Information

Three major issues impacting student outcomes and the inclusion of students with disabilities will be discussed by SEAP.  Information on grade promotion and diploma policies are related since a diploma is the ultimate promotion from school. Below is information on these issues:


Promotion and Diploma Decisions

SEAP will consider a proposal from the Department of Education related to fourth and eighth grade promotion of students eligible for LEAP Alternate Assessment, Level 2 (LAA2) and have a discussion regarding high school diplomas.


Advocates have proposed changing policies related to grade promotion and graduation for ALL students with disabilities (not just for students meeting LAA-2 eligibility).  Most students with disabilities in Louisiana do not pass the standardized tests and Louisiana's policy of retention for performance on these tests is not supported by any evidence that it improves student outcomes.


collaborative effort of parents and special education administrators led to a proposal for changing the criteria and process by which Louisiana students with disabilities are promoted from grade to grade and earn a high school diploma.  Other states recognize that decisions by people closest to the student, not just performance on a standardized test, is the best way to determine whether a student should be promoted to the next grade level or graduate with a diploma. Unfortunately for thousands of students in Louisiana these decisions are not made by the people who know them best and know what is best for them.  Instead Louisiana promotion and graduation decisions are determined by performance on standardized tests.  The proposal to Superintendent White seeks to change that for all students with disabilities and give Louisiana students the same access at being promoted and graduating with a diploma as students in other states. 


Click here to see the proposal sent to Superintendent John White. 


Click to view the Fact Sheet:

Accountability Based on Maximizing Student Potential.


Click here to see two graphs showing graduation rates for all students and students with disabilities by state.  

  • Students with disabilities from almost any other state are about twice as likely to graduate with a diploma than are students with disabilities in Louisiana! 
  • Differences in graduation rates reflect differences in policy and are not because students with disabilities from other states perform any better than students with disabilities in Louisiana.

These issues are faced by ALL students with disabilities - not just those who are eligible for LAA-2.  


It seems difficult to understand how a student who worked hard to be above the LAA-2 cut off criteria will not be able to be promoted while their peers who do not perform as well academically move ahead of them to the next grade level.  


And, it is difficult to understand why the best strategy for a student with disabilities in Louisiana to earn a diploma is for their family to move to another state - not because of better instruction but because of differences in policy.


Testing/Accountability of students not pursuing a diploma

SEAP will also consider the guidance from the Department on implementing a new law (Acts 151 and 291 of 2013) regarding testing and accountability for high school students who are not pursuing a high school diploma.  


According to Act 151 and Act 291:

High school students with disabilities who are not pursuing a diploma cannot be given tests (LEAP, End-of-Course tests, ACT, etc.) unless it is indicated as appropriate in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  The student and the school cannot be penalized for not taking these tests.  Specifically, the student must be allowed to be promoted to the next grade level and cannot be denied the ability to graduate.


These laws create a strange paradox in that a student who is no longer on the diploma track now cannot be denied the ability to graduate because the tests required for graduation are inappropriate.  Interestingly, the proposal presented by the collaborative effort of parents and special education administrators would resolve this contradiction in policy/law (see proposal to Superintendent White in previous section).


Following are some issues that surfaced when the Department considered how to develop guidance in the implementation of this policy, possible directions the Department has indicated they are considering, and feedback and concerns expressed by parents on these issues.


Which students are not pursuing a high school diploma?

IEPs clearly indicate on the front (signature) page whether a student is pursuing a diploma or not.  However, it was discovered that the Department's electronic IEP includes a menu of options on the transition page that includes alternatives to pursuing a diploma - regardless of what the front page of the IEP indicates.  So there are about 1,500 high school students with a front page indicating they are pursuing a diploma and a transition page indicated that they are not pursuing a diploma.  The Department issued an interpretation in the LDOE Weekly Newsletter on November 19th that the transition plan on the IEP, not the front page of the IEP, will be the determining factor of whether a student is not working toward a high school diploma. 


Have you seen the electronic version of your child's IEP?


Many parents think their child's IEP front page that says they are working toward a high school diploma matters - and are probably not aware that the electronic transition page may indicate their child is not pursuing a diploma. 


Using the transition plan as the determining factor for whether a student is on a diploma track seems to accept the mistake of IEP teams having followed the error in the electronic IEP system as the IEP team decision.  It is quite plausible that many, if not most, of the 1,500 IEP teams with conflicting information on the signature and transition pages made a different decision than is indicated on the transition plans.


The Department has indicated it is attempting to develop a checklist for IEP teams to use in determining when a student should transition from a diploma to a non-diploma track.  Parents have wondered why we wouldn't create an individualized graduation plan when the IEP team decides standardized tests are not appropriate. Will students work hard or drop out when they realize the state has made it impossible for them to earn any document that indicates what they can do - that they have valued skills.   


Is a high school diploma only designed to prepare students to be successful in college or other post-secondary school?  Right now there are many high school students earning real money at real jobs who will not meet the Louisiana standards for a high school diploma.  If a high school diploma reflected skills that employers valued these students and many others would be able to earn a diploma. 


LaTEACH believes all students should be given the opportunity to be recognized for the work they accomplish in school and deserve a diploma that reflects their accomplishments and skills.


Put on your Purple!


Join fellow LaTEACH members at SEAP!

Did You Take Action?
action alert
Please let us know if you plan to attend the SEAP meeting or sent any comments for SEAP to consider by emailing us at
Any questions?
If there are any questions about the information in this alert, contact LaTEACH at:
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Phone: 1-800-450-8108
Phone: 1-800-894-6558

LaTEACH is an initiative of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council.