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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Policy and Criteria for the Certificate of Attainment


The purpose of the state-endorsed credential is to provide school committees with the option of providing a certificate of attainment, based on specified criteria, to students who have completed local requirements but who do not yet qualify for the high school diploma because they have not yet earned a competency determination. Students who earn the state-endorsed credential have made a good faith effort to meet the state standards in English language arts and mathematics. These students will have completed all local graduation requirements, including attendance, course completion, and satisfactory grades.

It is important to note that a student with a disability who is eligible for special education and who is awarded the state-endorsed credential is entitled to continue receiving publicly-funded special education. State and federal law give students with disabilities the right to receive a free appropriate public education (special education and related services) until the student turns 22 or receives a high school diploma or its equivalent, whichever comes first. The state-endorsed credential is not equivalent to a high school diploma. It is, however, intended to make available further educational, job training and employment options for students.


To be eligible for a state-endorsed credential in 2003, a student must:

  • Complete a program of studies prescribed by the school committee or the student's IEP team which satisfies all local graduation requirements, including local attendance requirements, satisfactory grades, and course completion.

  • Satisfactorily participate in the tutoring and other academic support services made available by or approved by the school under an individual student success plan, an IEP, or under any other plan designed to strengthen the student's knowledge and skills of the learning standards of the subject(s) at issue.

  • The student must take the grade 10 MCAS examination in each subject area in which the student did not achieve a passing score at least three times.

Additional criteria for the Class of 2004 and beyond:

  • The student must maintain at least a 90% attendance level during the senior year of high school, provided that the superintendent may permit a student to qualify by documenting and maintaining evidence of extenuating circumstances such as a student's serious illness that would justify an exemption.

  • In the case of a student participating in the MCAS Alternate Assessment, the student is encouraged to participate in the Alternate Assessment in each subject area in which the student did not achieve a passing score once each year, for each year prior to the student's scheduled graduation date. The final determination on the student's annual participation is left to the student's IEP Team.

  • The student must take courses in the subject area in which the student did not achieve a passing score each year following the year in which the student initially did not achieve a passing score on a particular MCAS test. These courses should be designed to help the student achieve the curriculum framework standards, and to help the student achieve a competency determination.

This policy shall be in effect for two years and shall be subject to an annual review by the Board of Education. During the first annual review, the Board may wish to revisit the 90% attendance level required during the student's senior year, and may consider extending the attendance requirement to a student's junior year.

Approved by the Massachusetts Board of Education on November 26, 2002.

Last Updated: April 11, 2018

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