McCormick seeks help on graduation rate

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick has appealed to members of the Indiana congressional delegation for help in addressing a change in how the state is required to calculate high-school graduation rates.

In a letter this week to Indiana’s two senators and nine House members, McCormick describes problems that could result from the change and invites the delegation to help resolve a disagreement between state and federal education agencies.

Jennifer McCormick official head shot

Jennifer McCormick

Under guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, Indiana will no longer be able to include students who earn the general diploma in calculations of the official graduation rate for high schools. About 12 percent of Indiana graduates received the general diploma in recent years.

Had the requirement been in place in 2016, McCormick explains, it would have reduced Indiana’s graduation rate from 89.1 percent to 76.5 percent, a percentage that “does not reflect well upon our state and could negatively impact our economy.”

“This drastic drop in graduation rate due to a simple, federal definition change will cause confusion, reflect poorly upon all of our communities and our state, and could result in decreased emphasis placed upon those students who may not achieve at least a Core 40 Diploma,” McCormick writes.

The effect would vary considerably by school, with some well-regarded high schools seeing their graduation rate drop to the 60-to-70-percent range. Alternative schools and career academies – like Monroe County’s Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship and Bloomington Graduation School, for example — would see their rates fall even lower. Graduation rates are a factor in calculating state accountability grades for high schools.

About 30 percent of Indiana graduates who earn the general diploma are in special education. Others may be focused on career and technical courses, leaving fewer scheduling options for meeting the requirements of the more rigorous Core 40 or honors diplomas.

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2 thoughts on “McCormick seeks help on graduation rate

  1. Just hold on a moment here! Are not our citizens who are successful in their own path of a General Education Diploma not of their own preponderance? Is the student who chooses a technical program and a General Education, earning a living wage right after high school, not of value? Is not a student with disabilities who cannot complete a Core 40 diploma curriculum and who can complete a General Education Diploma and be gainfully employed not of value? These students are NOT an economic threat to Indiana and, as a citizen, I am outraged they are being referred to in such propaganda! We humans must start recognizing and celebrating the strengths of all students (humans), stop with the deficit rhetoric and, when faced by inane forced “value” statistics, stand up and come up with a way to value every student in Indiana. To not include these students in Indiana’s value of preponderance is just a travesty to our society. Define those students not included in the preponderance equation as those who drop out, period. Take the high road #indianalegislator and #sboe and tell the Department of Ed that Hoosier value all high school graduates!

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