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11/8/2017 10:00:00 AM
Indiana high school graduation proposal: College, career skills required

Scott L. Miley, Herald Bulletin CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana high school students would have to earn a diploma and show they are college and career-ready to graduate under recommendations presented Tuesday to the Indiana State Board of Education.

The board was given plans, still being worked on 30 minutes before the meeting, that would also eliminate course assessments for high school students.

The new Graduation Pathways model would begin to impact eighth-graders in the 2018-19 year who expect to graduate in 2023.

The recommendations were put together by the Graduation Pathways Panel, which included some members of the state board and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick.

To graduate from high school, students would need all three of the following:

• Earn a diploma

• Learn and demonstrate employability skills either through a project-, service- or work-based learning experience. A service-based opportunity could include an extracurricular activity or a volunteer spot. 

• Show post-secondary-ready competencies such as obtaining an honors diploma, passing ACT or SAT tests or passing an ASVAB military test. The competency element could also be developed locally, but it would require state approval.

Local pathways would depend upon the resources to a school district, officials noted. “It’s honoring that notion of local control so I’m happy with that balance,” panel member David Freitas said. “It’s the right way to get at this important issue but yet not mandate at a state level how it’s going to be done.”

The plan would replace end-of-course assessments with, for example, ACT or SAT tests. Currently the Legislature mandates that Algebra 1 and English 10 end-of-course assessments serve as the state’s graduation examination requirement.

About $5.6 million could be eliminated from the state education budget by removing end-of-course tests.

But by adding ACT or SAT to state-approved competency benchmarks, Indiana could pay more than $5 million for each program to serve nearly 260,000 students annually. Total administration of the post-secondary competency benchmarks could run $12.6 million.

As of the panel’s last meeting in October, end-of-course assessments were still to be included as a graduation qualifying examination. However, when the recommendations were presented to the panel on Tuesday, those tests were set to be axed by 2022.

State Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, also a panel member, acknowledged he was in a minority of favoring end-of-course tests.

Related Stories:
• Gov. Eric Holcomb's agenda to focus on workforce
• EDITORIAL: Preparing our students for more than just workforce
• Proposed formula changes concern local superintendents about high school grad rates

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