Dear High School and Unified School District STAR Coordinators:
The Golden State Seal Merit Diploma (GSSMD), established in 1997, provides recognition to public school graduates who have demonstrated mastery of the high school curriculum in designated areas. In 2012, a total of 55,948 graduating seniors from 990 schools were awarded the GSSMD. A total of 327 districts and charter schools that award diplomas notified the California Department of Education (CDE) of the number of qualifying pupils and schools by requesting GSSMD insignias for their graduates. Each school district or charter school that confers high school diplomas is required per California Education Code sections 51450–55 to maintain appropriate records in order to annually identify students who have earned a GSSMD and to affix the GSSMD insignia to the diploma and transcript of each qualifying student.
To qualify for the GSSMD, students must be receiving a high school diploma and must have earned a scale score of 370 or above on six qualifying California Standards Tests, which are administered under California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. The CDE provides the following documents to assist in the identification of graduating seniors who qualify for the GSSMD:
These documents are available on the CDE Golden State Seal Merit Diploma Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/meritdiploma.asp.
After identifying seniors who qualify for the GSSMD, complete and submit one Insignia Request Form annually per district or charter school. The district superintendent or charter school administrator must sign the form. The completed and signed form may be mailed to the CDE at any time. The CDE will begin mailing requested insignias the first week of April of each year. Note that while there is no deadline for submitting the form, school districts and charter schools should send their requests far enough in advance of the date of the first graduation ceremony of each year to allow time for the CDE to process the requests and for district and charter school staff to affix the insignias to the diplomas. Generally, insignias can be expected within two weeks from the date the CDE receives a request.
School districts and charter schools may also request GSSMD insignias for eligible students who graduated in previous years. To do so, complete and submit a separate Insignia Request Form with the “Graduation Year” section completed with the appropriate year; the “Graduation Date” section may be left blank. The district superintendent or charter school administrator must sign the form. The CDE will process and mail insignias for prior year graduates on receipt.
Please share this information with your high school principals, administrators, counselors, credit clerks, and staff in district curriculum offices. If you have any questions about the GSSMD, please contact the STAR Program Office by phone at 916-445-8765 or by e-mail at STAR@cde.ca.gov.
Patrick Traynor, Director
Assessment Development and Administration Division