April 8, 2024

Change to alternate diploma may let more students graduate high school

Listen at IPB News

Article origination IPB News
Indiana lawmakers are allowing more students with disabilities to graduate with the state's alternate diploma. - Alisha Referda / Flickr

Indiana lawmakers are allowing more students with disabilities to graduate with the state's alternate diploma.

Alisha Referda / Flickr

A change to Indiana’s law governing the alternate diploma will let more students with disabilities graduate high school. The change will affect school districts throughout the state, but it will have the biggest impact in some of the state’s smallest schools.

Indiana’s alternate diploma is meant for students who have significant cognitive disabilities. They were first available to the class of 2023, but organizations like the Indiana School Boards Association said they were not fully utilized because of a law that restricted their use.

Before the law was changed, no more than 1 percent of a graduating class could graduate with the alternate diploma. That meant some schools with very small class sizes couldn’t count any students who earned an alternate diploma toward their graduation rate.

The ISBA urged lawmakers to change the law this year because it, “unfairly penalizes school corporations with small graduating classes,” according to a document shared by the association.

READ MORE: State lawmakers share their thoughts on this year's education bills
 

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 765-275-1120. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues, including our project Civically, Indiana and our 2024 legislative bill tracker.
 

Lawmakers listened. The change was included as part of HEA 1243. Starting July 1, small schools can allow one student to graduate with an alternate diploma, even if that student makes up more than 1 percent of the graduating class.

The effect on small schools and their students could be significant. According to a Ball State University study, 20 percent of Indiana’s school corporations had fewer than 1,000 students in 2022. Some of those corporations were not able to award an alternate diploma under the previous law.

Next year, students at those schools who would not have been able to graduate last year could receive their high school diplomas under the new provision.

Kirsten is Indiana Public Broadcasting's education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Copyright 2024 IPB News.
Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.

 

Related News

Indiana tells schools to ignore LGBTQ student protections as Title IX fight begins
Indiana has a school attendance problem. Hundreds gathered to find a solution
Here’s which Indiana school referendum passed in the primary election