Graduation rates at some Indiana high schools could plummet due to a new federal definition of regular diplomas. It would prohibit schools from including students who earn the general diploma in calculated graduation rates. Instead, federal guidelines would only count students who earn the Core 40 diploma or above.
General diplomas require fewer math, social studies and science credits – and less testing.
The state has drafted a formal waiver in an attempt to avoid what they say would cause an undue burden for schools, and the Indiana Department of Education wants the public to weigh in. The waiver would exempt Indiana from the new definition for regular high school diplomas. State Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker says the agency hopes key stakeholders help convey the new federal regulation as a statewide concern.
“You know, superintendents, principals from rural, from urban, from every sort of district size and shape from around the state, saying we agree with this, we don’t want to see this affect us negatively,” Baker says.
Schools are considered “at risk” if their federally calculated graduation rates dip to 70 percent, and then identified as needing “comprehensive improvement” if they drop below 67 percent. That means the state would be required by law to intervene in some form or another.
The public can comment on the waiver online through Dec. 2.