Hoosiers can review the first draft of the state’s new high school diploma rules and share their feedback through Tuesday, July 30. 

Public comments made about the future of the high school experience will be reviewed before publication of the second draft. 

State officials say they want the proposed new high school diploma requirements to be as flexible, relevant and rigorous as possible for Indiana students.

However, some educators and school board members have raised questions at recent Wayne County school board meetings about what the changes would mean for their districts.

The new proposal would eliminate academic honors diplomas, thus potentially impacting course offerings. 

Schools in small eastern Indiana communities are uncertain if they could secure enough work experiences at area employers if more students are seeking those opportunities, or whether internships could be obtained in western Ohio that would qualify.   

Other concerns voiced include whether the state would cut per-pupil school funding if some students spend most of their junior and senior years out in the workforce. Those reductions could affect operating income for building maintenance and other services, and potentially cut jobs for teachers for upper grades. It’s also uncertain whether students in grades 11 and 12 would be able to continue involvement in courses such as music.  

The first draft was published June 26 in the Indiana Register, which initiates the first of two public comment periods required by statute. Parents, community members and other stakeholders are invited to provide feedback at form.jotform.com/241416447370959

In addition, Indiana Department of Education and State Board of Education staff will also conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. July 30 in the Indiana Government Center South’s conference rooms. Anyone may attend the public hearing in person to share solution-based ideas or watch online at youtube.com/live/y5JpBTwliVQ

All public comments, including those submitted online, will be recorded and provided to SBOE members as part of the rulemaking process. 

A second, refined draft of the diploma rule will be shared later this summer before a second round of public comment. The final draft is anticipated to be adopted in late 2024.

Indiana’s current graduation requirements will sunset October 1, 2028, making final requirements effective for all students beginning with the class of 2029, or students entering eighth grade this fall. Schools may opt in beginning with the 2025-2026 school year.

New diplomas at a glance

As part of the proposed diploma requirement, Indiana students would complete a defined set of foundational courses and competencies in ninth and 10th grades. 

They would be strategically focused on essential knowledge and skills necessary for all students to succeed in college and careers. Indiana Department of Education officials say this structure allows for additional flexibility and personalization in 11th and 12th grades.

The rule also outlines individual readiness seals designed to support students’ post-graduation goals. Each readiness seal will have a defined set of course offerings and competencies. 

Earning a readiness seal will be designed to immediately signal to any college or university, employer or military representative that a student is strongly prepared to enter enrollment, employment or enlistment leading to service. Readiness seals could be added to either diploma (Indiana GPS or Indiana GPS Plus) and would be reflected on the student’s transcript.

Read more at in.gov/doe/diplomas

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A version of this article appeared in the July 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.