December 4, 2017

Educators Urge State Board To Reject Graduation Overhaul

Article origination IPBS-RJC

Slide from an Indiana State Board of Education presentation on the graduation pathways committee. (Credit: SBOE)

Some education leaders are asking the State Board of Education this week to reject a recommendation to overhaul high school graduation requirements.

The proposal would make students satisfy three conditions to qualify for graduation.

It would also let students choose a so-called college or career pathway. Ideally, this would allow a student to tailor their classes, extracurricular activities or internships to a particular job, joining the military or college.

READ MORE: Goodbye ECA? Panel OKs Graduation Overhaul But Uncertainties Remain

But Jeff Butts, president of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, says he won’t support the plan because there are still too many unknowns.

“The process has been discouraging,” he wrote in a letter to the board this week about the multi-month process led by a board member. “I can’t say with any certainty how these components became part of the recommendation before you.”

Butts, the Wayne Township Schools superintendent, detailed 16 areas of concern. He questioned how standardized tests would be paid for and whether the new requirements would be linked to school accountability ratings.

He also asked how changes in high school will translate into increased post-secondary graduate rates – a much-touted reason by lawmakers for the new requirements.

The proposed graduation pathways system would require students to satisfy diploma requirements, demonstrate “employability skills” through a job or project, and earn a predetermined score on different types of standardized tests.

If approved, the new requirements would start for ninth-graders entering high school in 2019-20 and graduate in 2022-23.

Data from the state education department found nearly 10,000 students would not graduate under the proposed graduation requirements.

Other local school leaders have questioned the impact the proposed requirements could have on low-income and special education students.

The State Board of Education will discuss the proposal 1 p.m. Tuesday and vote on it 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Indiana Government Building South. Public comments will be taken at the meetings.

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