Indiana educators have begun pushing back against a plan to dramatically reconfigure the state’s high-school diploma requirements. Will it matter? We could know this week.
The State Board of Education will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to consider “graduation pathways” that students follow to earn a diploma. The proposal comes from the Graduation Pathways Panel, created by 2017 legislation, which met nine times from August until November.
The panel’s recommendations would require students to not only complete high-school credit requirements but to demonstrate “postsecondary-ready competencies” and “employability skills” by clearing a set of barriers, such as passing tests, earning college credits or completing internships.
Until recently, the panel flew under the radar. Its deliberations got little attention, and it’s likely that most people directly affected by the change – teachers and parents – weren’t aware of it. That’s now changed, as educators in the field have gotten wind of what it would mean to keep students on track to graduate in an increasingly complex system.
“The field is starting to get revved up. It’s a little noisy,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said last month at a Bloomington meeting hosted by the Monroe County Community School Corp. and the Indiana Coalition for Public Education-Monroe County.
McCormick, as a member of the Graduation Pathways Panel, has been openly skeptical of the proposed changes – or at least of the speed with which they’re likely to be implemented. She has urged teachers, administrators, counselors and parents to submit comments on the proposal.
Another skeptic is Brad Oliver, a former State Board of Education. He commented on Twitter that the proposed pathways will be confusing, challenging to implement, costly for schools and parents, and harmful to the state’s high-school graduation rates.
The current board is expected to be split, with McCormick and former school superintendent Steve Yager possibly calling for a slow-down while other members push for full speed ahead.
The board will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday for a work session with the Graduation Pathways Panel and at 9 a.m. Wednesday for a business meeting at which it could act on the recommendations. Limited public comment is scheduled at the start of each meeting.