Despite Objections, State Board Of Education Passes New Graduation Requirements

Posted On December 07, 2017

The Indiana State Board of Education voted to approve new high school graduation pathways on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Photo by Paul Ketcham via Twitter.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to approve new requirements mandating that students do more to graduate from high school in the years to come.

The new requirements passed on a 7-4 vote after hours of testimony from those who overwhelmingly opposed the changes, including educators and labor unions. Southeastern Indiana school superintendents were among those in the room.

Beginning in 2023, students will have to complete additional coursework, demonstrate employability skills through service or work projects, or show they’re ready for college by receiving high scores on exams that include the SAT and ACT.

The added rigor has stoked fears that the graduation rate will plummet and local schools will be overworked administering the requirements. But others see it as necessary to ensure students are ready for either college or the workplace.

“I am disappointed in the board’s vote today. Following hours of public comments and hundreds of emails from parents, teachers, counselors and school administrators, asking members to slow down and figure out the many unknowns, their voices were ignored,” said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick also expressed disappointment in the SBOE’s vote, but said she will implement the new requirements.

“Although disappointed in the vote, I’m extremely proud of our K-12 colleagues. They continue to be tireless advocates for our children and have remained student focused throughout this process. It is clear our Indiana educators are committed to being part of a solution to workforce and higher education concerns. The Department will continue working with our legislators, concentrating on successful implementation of the Graduation Pathways, and collaborating with all those who work on behalf of our students on a daily basis,” said McCormick.

Principal of Goshen High School, Barry Younghans, previously said one of the biggest issues is the scoring requirement for those on the college track. He said the scores that students must achieve are already set higher than necessary.

Younghans said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant drop in overall graduation rates in the future if the proposal is approved.

The proposal does have supporters, though.

The pathways were developed by the Graduation Pathways Panel, a SBOE subcommittee, which gathered input from hundreds of stakeholders during 30 combined hours of discussion over the past year. The panel’s chairman, Dr. Byron Ernest, said he’s excited for the opportunities the new pathways will provide Hoosier students.

“They will go a long way to ensure our students are truly prepared for success in whatever they choose to pursue after high school,” said Ernest.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette previously reported that Mark Melnick, with Benteler Automotive in Goshen, supports training for jobs that don’t require a college education.

He said that when looking at students emerging from Indiana schools one reason for the lack of skilled workers is an overemphasis on the college track. He especially lauded the apprenticeship recommendation.

“Middle school needs to plant the seed that there are honorable and well-paid jobs that do not require a college degree,” Melnick said according to the Journal Gazette.

Local districts can also create their own pathway but the State Board of Education would have to approve, the Journal Gazette reported.

Eagle Country 99.3’s Mike Perleberg contributed to this report.


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