December 27, 2017

Lawmakers Prepare for Changes on Graduation Paths, Diplomas

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) has been chair of the House Education Committee since 2011.  - Photo courtesy of the Indiana General Assembly

Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) has been chair of the House Education Committee since 2011.

Photo courtesy of the Indiana General Assembly

Changes to Indiana’s education system in 2018 will largely focus on increasing students’ work skills, but one key lawmaker says there’s more to discuss around high school graduation.

A change in federal law means Indiana’s diploma system needs attention, and House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning says he envisions something a little less complicated.

“Our goal would be probably to have a single diploma as opposed to having four different diploma types,” he says.

Behning says he sees the diploma earned by most Hoosier students, the Core 40, as the base for a single diploma system. Core 40 requirements are slightly more rigorous than the general diploma, and students have a chance to move to the general diploma if they can’t meet Core 40 thresholds. But Behning says changing the diploma structure would help align the state with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which doesn’t count the general diploma in federal graduation rates.

The Indianapolis Republican says the state board should reconsider the math requirements for the Core 40 as well, to focus more on applied skills, instead of theoretical math in courses like Algebra 2.

Lawmakers also need to figure out their role under a new graduation pathways plan recently adopted by the State Board of Education, and Behning says efforts in Elkhart County set a good example for the state to follow.

“You know it’s not easy to force somebody to come together and collaborate,” Behning says. “But when you see what’s happening there you know, you want to say, ‘well, if they can do it, we can do it, and how can we come together and make this work?’”

Behning says a nonprofit in Elkhart County called Horizon Education Alliance has already brought together business and school leaders, and he says that’s important to prepare the community for new experience-based graduation requirements.

Now, Behning says lawmakers need to figure out their role in leading similar discussions across the rest of the state.

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