Happy summer to everyone!
We are issuing a call to action. Between now and Thursday, July 20 at 11:59 pm, please reach out to the Indiana Department of Education per their first draft of the Indiana plan for adhering to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
ESSA was signed into law in December 2015 as the update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESSA replaces the previous update to the law, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
If you have the time, please read the sections and take the survey for each section.
The sections and surveys are here.
If you don't have that much time, please call or email the director of policy, Patrick McAlister: (317) 232-7794/ firstname.lastname@example.org or just the State Board of Education in general and demand that the newly created graduation pathways task force include a broad array of public school teachers (special education teachers especially) and have among its goals to address explicitly ways to support graduation rates for students with IEPs.
Indiana State Board of Education
143 W. Market St., Suite 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
The Fate of the Indiana General Diploma
Did you know that Indiana offers five different high school diplomas (if you count all three versions of the Core 40) in addition to the GED and the certificate of completion?
According to Chalkbeat: "Special education advocates fought for years to make Indiana’s general diploma a viable option for students who need it. Now, the credential is being sidelined again—this time by the federal government.
The general diploma is a pared-down option typically earned by students who struggle academically or those with special needs. The state has discouraged schools from relying on the general diploma, but advocates say it offers opportunities to students who otherwise might not be able to earn the more rigorous default option, the Core 40 diploma."
However, as soon as fall 2018, the general diploma may not count in the graduation rate the state is required to report to the federal government because it is below the diploma the majority of students receive (Core 40). It could possibly cause rates to drop and school A-F grades to suffer because students earning the general diploma won't be counted as graduates by the federal government.
In 2016, 8,600 young adults in Indiana graduated with a general diploma out of 70,490 total. That's 12 percent of Indiana graduates that received a general diploma. If this change had taken effect for the 2016 school year, the state's graduation rate as federally reported would have been 78 percent, rather than the 89 percent that was reported. (Sources: 1, 2)
Indiana already tried to eliminate the general diploma, pushing kids in that category either up to Core 40 or down to certificate of completion.
It was just last year that legislation passed to compel every school to offer the general diploma—previously it was optional since the Core 40 was made the standard-bearer for diplomas. Some high schools had stopped even offering general diplomas.
At last week's Indiana state board of education meeting, members voted to create a task force to establish new pathways to graduation in consultation with the Department of Workforce Development and the Commission for Higher Education. Unfortunately, few educators are designated to participate. (But Indiana education legislation architects Kruse and Behning are on the board.)
The problem is that Indiana is likely to revisit eliminating the general diploma altogether (as it did in 2015), which would be a problem for many students with IEPs and other students that benefit from that option.
ICPE members and other fellow education advocates should make the case for a graduation pathways task force that includes a broad array of public school teachers and has among its goals to address explicitly ways to support graduation rates for students with IEPs.
If you are looking for additional changes to be brought by ESSA, read this article which highlights more measures that may be added to schools in Indiana by the SBOE.