Diploma requirement changes aim to put Indiana high school students on track for careers

Diploma requirements may change for Indiana high-school students within the next few years.

The Indiana Career Council’s Core 40 Subcommittee came up with a proposal to alter the requirements, making them more rigorous and 

Communications Director for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Stephanie Wilson, said the committee’s proposed changes are based on how well diploma requirements align with workforce needs and what students need to know upon graduating. She said she thinks the changes will help college-bound students better explore their interests before going to 

“They include a career sequence and more focused elective pathways for kids,” Wilson said.

She said she thinks the alterations will allow more students to have a better idea of what they want to do for a career and receive a better look at the world of work while still in high school.

Associate Commissioner for Higher Education Jason Bearce said the proposal was created by the Core 40 Subcommitee, which consulted with various institutions like the Indiana State Department of Education, local schools and universities, employers and members of the workforce. Public comments were also taken.

Bearce said the new requirements reflect three main areas: They’ll increase academic rigor, they’ll provide more explicit expectations for students and they’ll be more intentional about giving students a structured and meaningful course load.

Right now students can choose between four diplomas: general, which requires 40 total credits; Core 40, which also requires 40 total credits but calls for increased science, social studies and mathematics credits; Core 40 with academic honors, which requires 47 credits, a higher GPA and one of six requirements such as earning AP or IB credits, or reaching a certain SAT or ACT score; and Core 40 with technical honors, which shares many of the academic honors track, but requires certain scores on career placement tests and credits in the College & Career Pathway.

With the changes, high school students will have three diploma options: the College & Career Ready diploma, the Workforce Ready diploma and the College & Career Ready diploma with honors. All diplomas will require four years of math, a graduation capstone experience and a personal financial literacy course, according to CHE.

Wilson said she thinks the new math requirement is one of the most important alterations. Most state colleges “won’t accept kids who don’t have that four years of math,” she said.

Bearce said he thinks the new financial literacy course will also be beneficial for students. He said the requirement received “universal praise” by those who approved the changes — some students even 
requested it.

Emilie Rose Holtz, a senior at Bloomington High School South, said she wishes she would have been able to take the financial literacy course. She said it is offered as an elective at her school, but she didn’t have room for it in her schedule.

“The things that are necessary to know in everyday life, like paying taxes and student loans, most kids don’t know about that at all,” she said. “It’s something that’s a necessary skill you need to know.”

In the future, all students will be required to take the financial literacy course.

Bearce said the next step will be to send the proposed changes to the State Board of Education. Once approved, those changes will go into legislation, and schools will work to create new courses and revamp old ones. The new diplomas will be in place for the class of 2022.

“It’ll put students at a much better position once they get to college,” Bearce said. “It lets employers and colleges know what students are capable of.”

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