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Should He Be Allowed to Graduate?

Autistic Boy's Parents Need to Accept He Won't Graduate From High School

Posted by Jeanne Sager

graduationIt's every parent's dream to have their child grow up and graduate from high school. But when do you give up on that dream? When do you say, "OK, that's what some kids do. Some kids, but maybe not my kid?" Sinclaire Coffer's parents aren't there yet. 

Their 17-year-old son has taken a math test -- required by the State of Georgia for a high school senior to graduate -- five times. And every single time, Coffer has failed. But because their son has autism, Coffer's parents think their son should get to graduate anyway.

I feel for the Coffers. I really, honestly, 100 percent do. Parenting a kid on the spectrum has its own special challenges to begin with. And they've gotten their kid this far.

They say they've hired a private tutor. They've encouraged their son to take extra courses. They've done everything that a parent SHOULD do and more. They even supported his venture to the point of petitioning the state's board of education for a waiver on the math test -- based on his autism diagnosis -- so that Sinclaire could say he too was a high school graduate.

But now that the state board of education has said no, sorry, but rules are rules, I feel for them even more. Because now they may have to face one of the hardest thing for parents: that point at which we realize there are some things our kids just can't do. We spend their early childhood talking about "no limits," but at some point, that's exactly what they are. Limits on who this person will be and what they can do.

It's not a part of parenting that comes with pithy quotes about hopes and dreams. It's not a part of parenting they talk about much in the books. It's a part that downright sucks.

But it's reality. Some kids are made to kick butt on the basketball court. Some kids are made to multiply huge sums in their head. Some kids are made to graduate.

And some kids aren't. I know I will never be an artist (and have the dismal scores from high school art class on my transcript to prove it). I will never be a nuclear engineer.

This kid gave it the old college try. He took a test FIVE times, and he failed it every single time. The state has said he can't graduate unless he passes it, so what are the Coffers going to do? Are they going to make him take it again and again and again? Or will they accept that this is one dream that is not to be and move on, find something their child can do and do well? I can't make that decision for them, but I hope they make the right one.

Should Sinclaire Coffer be alllowed to graduate?

What would you do if you found out your child could not graduate from high school?


by on May. 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Replies (61-68):
by on May. 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Our school gives students that are unable to pass state mandated tests a Certification of Completion, those who pass the state mandated test are given a dipolma.  This is California, of course. 

by on May. 18, 2012 at 3:06 PM


by on May. 20, 2012 at 2:07 AM

Here in st louis mo. is a program called A.C.E.It is designed to help students recover lost credits.The classes are much smaller and they work only in the area where your child needs help.I attended a graduation the other night of ace is exactly the same as any high school.They even graduate with the classes from their last school.I would keep  after the board of eduacation to find such a program.To me this is a most important step in a young persons life.It proves to them that hard work pays off and shows them that a job isn`t done until it is done.I will be rooting for you and your son.You can make this happen

by Bronze Member on May. 20, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Quoting saveabrain:

Quoting atlmom2:

MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts high school students must meet the credit hour criteria. The state offers standard diplomas only, except that IEP diplomas may be authorized by local school boards. In addition, part of the credit requirements for standard diplomas and the distribution of credits are left to the discretion of local authorities.


This is a great comprehensive list - did you compile this or find it somewhere?

Sorry, I didn't put in the whole quote to save room.

It is a good list but not quite up to date.  MA doesn't offer an IEP diploma but rather a certificate of completion.  In order to get a high school diploma, you must pass the 10th grade MCAS or submit an MCAS Alternative portfolio for competency.

by on May. 21, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Quoting atlmom2:

I am torn but rules are rules.  Do they start giving diplomas to everyone?  They mean nothing if they just hand them out.  Did he pass all his classes?  Was he given special compensation to pass regular classes too?  Usually these tests are not that hard. They are usually on a 9th grade level at least in the states I know about. 

That's about where I am...The rules have to be for all.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Thank you.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 9:48 PM

A state test is a state test!!!  Autism or not the test HAS to be passed to graduate! Should all of the other student who didn't pass the test graduate anyway too??? His parents are doing him no favors teaching him to use his autism as a crutch when things don't go his way!

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Standardized tests suck. Graduation should not be solely based on 1 stupid test.
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