NASET News Alert

"Certificate of Completion" Hoax

May 25, 2006

"Certificate of Completion" Hoax

Email Regarding Graduation Requirements and the No Child Left Behind Act

May 25, 2006,  U.S. Department of Education Deputy Press Secretary Chad Colby today released the following statement regarding a hoax e-mail being circulated:

False statements regarding graduation requirements and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) are being circulated via e-mail. These e-mails are inaccurate, could lead to misunderstanding, and need to be corrected.

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 e-mails. For example, there is not a Lake Ridge Elementary School in that state, nor did any Indiana high school issue 82 "Certificates of Course Completion." Rather, according to the Indiana Department of Education, the maximum number of such certificates issued last year was 29, in a high school with 385 graduates. According to Indiana education officials, a GED, a certificate of completion, a certificate of course completion, or a certificate by any other name does not terminate a person's right to pursue a high school diploma under Indiana law. There are similar inaccuracies about Illinois.

The e-mails also include the erroneous claim that NCLB was "revised" in 2004. In fact, NCLB was enacted on January 8, 2002, and is not scheduled for reauthorization until 2007.

For additional information about the No Child Left Behind Act and other education initiatives, please visit the Department's Web site at

For additional information, the general public may also call 1-800-USA-LEARN (872-5327).

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