Indiana House passes bill to overhaul high school diplomas

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House on Monday approved a bill that would overhaul the types of high school diplomas offered to students.

The measure by Republican Indianapolis Rep. Bob Behning was approved on an 84-5 vote. It now moves to the Senate, where a similar measure is being considered.

It’s just the latest change in a state education system that has been in near continuous state of tumult in recent years amid changes in testing and education standards.

But without the measure, the state’s graduation rate would take a hit. That’s because the “general diploma” that some students currently opt to receive does not comply with federal requirements. A drop in the graduation rate could impact anything from a school’s A-F grade, to funding, among other factors

Currently four different diplomas are offered. The bill would require the state board of education to create the “Indiana Diploma” as the state’s new baseline. Students could get additional enhancements available based on academic achievement.

Democratic Rep. Vernon Smith supported the measure. But he chided the Legislature and the state education policy makers for not listening enough to educators when making big changes.

“The education community feels like we keep making so many reforms in this state that they can’t keep up with them,” said Smith, of Gary.

The bill also changes high school testing requirements. Starting after 2019, schools must administer a nationally recognized college entrance exam, like the ACT or SAT, as an end of course assessment for high school students.

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