Every course your child takes in high school and credits earned will be recorded on his or her Academic Achievement Record (AAR). Some people refer to the AAR as the “transcript.” The state requires the school district to accurately and permanently maintain the AAR for every student enrolled in a high school program. All entries on the AAR must match teachers’ records and, when applicable, the student’s Individualized Education program (IEP).
What information is included on a student’s AAR?
- Graduation Program Seal: When the student graduates from high school, the state requires districts to attach an official seal to the AAR reflecting which graduation program he or she has completed – the Distinguished, the Recommended, or the Minimum High School Program. (Note: the district cannot use the notation of “completion of IEP” to differentiate students who received special education services.)
- Assessment Dates and Scores: The AAR also records the month and year that the student passed each of the TAKS exit exams or STAAR End of Course exams (the exam your student takes depends on the year he or she enters 9th Grade). For students in special education, the ARDC must determine how the student will participate in the state assessment and whether or not passing the assessment is a requirement for graduation. Only students with an IEP are eligible to take an alternative assessment. In this case, requirements of the alternative assessment must be stated in the student’s IEP and kept with the student’s permanent file.
- Courses Taken and Credits Earned: All courses taken for high school credit, grades received and credits earned are recorded on the AAR. The district may use special explanation codes for exceptional course work, such as dual credit, IB or honors courses. However, the AAR may not contain any codes that would identify a student as a person with a disability.
Note: For a student in special education, the ARD committee may decide that he or she may substitute a locally developed course for a state-approved course in order to meet the graduation requirements under the Minimum plan. In this case, the district may assign a special “V” code to indicate that the student has received modifications to the TEKS curriculum. While this special “V” code goes in the student’s permanent record, it may not be printed on the AAR. This would be a violation of the student’s privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Other: The AAR documents information relating to student demographics, including the student’s full name, social security number, date of birth, gender, ethnicity, etc.
How does the AAR differ from the diploma?
Some states have different diplomas for students who graduate under an IEP; however, in Texas, there is ONE diploma for all students. Students graduating under the Distinguished and Recommended High School Programs receive the same diploma as students graduating under the Minimum High School Program. It is the AAR – not the diploma – that differentiates the student’s individual accomplishments, achievement, and courses completed.
Who can get a copy of the AAR?
- Parents and students: You can request a copy of the AAR at any time (per the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA). The district may not withhold the transcript from the student or parent/guardian for any reason (including money owed to the school), nor can they alter the document in any way when making a copy.
- A student’s new school: If your family moves or your child transfers to another school, the school must forward the AAR to the new school within 10 days of receiving the request to do so. The sending school may not withhold the transcript from another school district/charter for any reason (including money owed to the school). Under no circumstance may the receiving district prohibit a new student from attending school pending receipt of the student’s records.
For transfer students in special education, the AAR (or transcript) is important for the student’s appropriate placement at the new school. The new school may not change a transfer student’s placement unless a change of placement has been agreed upon by a meeting of the ARD committee at the receiving school.
It is important to note that in Texas, the student must make a 70 (on a scale of 100) or above in a course in order to receive credit. This is called “the passing standard.” For transfer students, the receiving district must honor any credits a student has earned at another Texas public school or charter school based on the transcript. However, private schools or schools outside of Texas may have a lower minimum passing standard (i.e., they received credit for classes in which they have made a grade below 70). In this case, the receiving district may or may not accept the credit based on a review of the student’s record.
- Colleges and Universities: Most colleges and universities require students to submit a high school transcript (the AAR) as part of the application process. Copies of the AAR can never be shared without the student’s/guardian’s permission. The Texas Education Code states that a school can withhold a transcript to a college or university if the student owes the district money related to instructional materials provided partially or in whole through state funds. The school may also charge a small fee to have transcripts forwarded to a college or university. Check with the Registrar’s office for your high school’s policy and procedure for forwarding transcripts
What Parents Need to Know
Keep in mind that students in special education are required to meet the same curriculum standards as students in general education. For students who are unable to participate in grade-level coursework due to a disability, the ARD Committee may find it appropriate to substitute a locally developed course for a state approved course. While course substitutions are acceptable under the Minimum graduation plan, new state regulations require that any substitution for a core academic course must align with the TEKS for that subject.
According to the Commissioner’s Rules beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, “school districts will be required to review the content of locally developed courses for alignment with the TEKS to ensure students receive instruction that is aligned with the required course and respective EOC assessment” (Critical Amendment to §19 TAC 98.1070). This change impacts all students beginning in 2011-2012, not just 9th graders, and it applies only to courses assessed by the end-of-course (EOC) exams.
For example, only a locally developed math course can be substituted for a state approved math course (substituting a locally developed recreational course for a state approved math course would not be appropriate). The student’s math goals should be standards-based and included in the IEP. The locally developed math course should provide adequate instruction in the math TEKS to prepare the student to participate in the state assessment.
Every course your child takes will be reflected in the AAR. Carefully monitor the courses your child takes from the very beginning of high school, and maintain a vision of what you would like for your child’s AAR (transcript) to look like when Graduation Day arrives. Ultimately, the AAR is the key to your child’s future.
|The Academic Achievement Record:
- 2009-2010 Minimum Standards for the AAR
- 2008 Minimum Standards for the AAR
- Annotated version of the 2008 Minimum Standards
Texas Record Exchange (TREx)
Check your local education service center trainings for a class called: Leaving a Clear Trail: Special Education Courses, Credits, and the Academic Achievement Record