Indiana students could receive graduation credit for jobs

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INDIANAPOLIS — A state panel could back requiring Indiana high school students to get real-world experience in order to graduate.

The applied learning requirement could be met in multiple ways including participating in a service-learning project, internship or after-school job.

“It gives students the option on what route they want to take and it gives the school options to do the right thing for the student,” said Byron Ernest, chairman of the panel and member of the State Board of Education.

The 14-member committee that includes education, business, and workforce leaders has proposed the requirement as part of a push to modernize the state’s high school graduation standards.

Legislators voted earlier this year to create the panel in order to address concerns about the current graduation system. It is considering shifting the emphasis from getting students ready for college to giving them more career-related opportunities.

Some panelists said that some employers have told them the current graduation standards don’t help students succeed after high school.

“Some students are just not test-takers…so not sure it is the best environment for us to base everything on one test,” said Ernest.

The state is also considering giving graduation waivers to students who can show they’re college- or career-ready in other ways, such as enrolling in a post-secondary education program or securing employment.

“There is a lot to be gained from just having that experience. Getting there on time, being there, and we hear that from employers,” said Ernest.

The panel is scheduled to meet again on Nov. 7 to prepare a final draft of its recommendations for the State Board of Education. The board will vote on the recommendations in December.

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