High School Diploma Validation Process
As stated in 34 CFR 668.16(p) of the Federal Student Aid Handbook, a college must have a procedure to evaluate the validity of a student’s high school completion, and diploma, if the college or the Department has reason to believe that the high school diploma is not valid or was not obtained from an entity that provides secondary school education.
This procedure explains the University of Houston-Downtown’s (UHD) voluntarily adopted role in developing best practices to validate the integrity of a student’s reported high school completion and diploma.
The goal of this procedure is threefold:
- To identify a standard set of criteria that validates or invalidates a high school completion and diploma as legitimate in order to establish a best practices model relative to general college admission as well as in the context of 34 CFR 668.16(p), standards of administrative capability, requiring postsecondary institutions to develop and follow procedure to… evaluate the validity of a student's high school completion if the institution or the Secretary has reason to believe that the high school diploma is not valid or was not obtained from an entity that provides secondary school education.
- To define the limited role of UHD in validating high school credentials and to clearly declare that UHD and its committees only act in an advisory role to its various Enrollment Management departments. In no way does UHD impose governance or compliance to its recommendations. UHD acknowledges that each member institution of the University of Houston System (UHS) has the right and discretion to make its own interpretations.
- To establish the High School Diploma Integrity Committee and describe procedures by which it operates.
- Criteria for validating high school completion and high school diploma.
UHD endorses the following list to be the most trustworthy criteria by which a high school credential is judged as valid. Level I list criteria for determining that the credential is valid. If Level I is not met, then Level II consists of the elements by which the high school may be evaluated.
- All public high schools within the U.S. or U.S. territories
- Previously validated private high schools by UHD’s High School Credential Review Committee
- Regionally accredited high schools and their diplomas bearing the school seal, logo, or watermark
- High schools accredited through agencies approved by CHEA such as the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
- All U.S., U.S. territory, and military issued GED’s
- Foreign high school transcripts evaluated by a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) affiliate as equivalent to a standard high school diploma
- International Baccalaureate diplomas
- Determine mode of delivery for education (online, face-to-face, hybrid, diploma-test only*)
- Determine whether or not credentialed teachers delivered education
- Determine if education is delivered over specified periods of time
- Determine if curriculum is consistent with a valid secondary education
- Determine if website is consistent with findings
- Other information/criteria as determined by the member institution if member institution has
*“Diploma-test only” diplomas are considered invalid.
Transcripts for which validation cannot be made through Level I or Level II assessment or for which the decision is challenged by the student should be referred to the local institution’s appeals process. If the institutional appeals process determines that the transcript has not met the criteria for an acceptable high school credential, the student will be directed to obtain a state issued GED or pursue other Title IV alternatives. All institutional determinations are final.
- Process by which committee will generate information.
- The UHD High School Credential Review Committee consist of four (4) members. Three (3) members will be from representatives within the UHD Enrollment Management division and one (1) member from the faculty (chair of the Individual Review Committee).
The purpose of the High School Credential Review Committee is to:
- Maintain the High School Invalidated Transcript list, which will be maintained by the UHD Admissions Department
- Maintain the High School Approved Transcript list, which will be maintained by the UHD Admissions Department
- Maintain a record when a new institution has completed Level II validation.
III. The High School Credential Review Committee will accept a completed validation check from a UHS member institution as acceptable, and the high school will be added to the appropriate list. If any member of the High School Credential Review Committee seeks to challenge the completed validation, that member will perform a Level II validation. If results are different, the members of the High School Credential Review Committee will vote on which Level II validation will prevail. The prevailing validation will be added to the appropriate list with notation that it was a committee decision.
UHD recommends the High School Credential Review Committee procedure set forth above be adopted as a guideline for meeting the requirements of 34 CFR 668.16 (p) to ensure all students are treated equitably. UHD acknowledges that this procedure does not apply to home education students who apply for admission as having graduated from a home education program and present a valid home school affidavit. UHD continues to recognize the autonomy of each UHS member institution to make its own decisions and judgments in validating high school diplomas.