Indiana panel recommends changes to graduation requirements

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana panel working to create new graduation guidelines for the state’s high schools has recommended eliminating the graduation qualifying exam requirement.

The Graduation Pathways Panel has recommended that students take the SAT, ACT or a similar college entrance exam instead of End-of-Course Assessments. Students who don’t pass the tests could still qualify to graduate through other means, such as taking college-level courses, getting an industry-recognized work credential or getting a qualifying score on the military aptitude test.

The switch would start with the class of 2023.

College entrance exams are more valuable to students, said Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who sits on the 14-person panel and chairs the House Education Committee.

“To me, it’s just a better way of utilizing student time,” Behning said.

The change was recommended in response to feedback and suggestions from other panelists and stakeholders, said Byron Ernest, chair of the Graduation Pathways Panel and a state board member.

“Students and families need to understand why they are being tested, and the SAT and ACT already have that currency,” he said. “Everybody understands.”

The change was introduced to the draft proposal less than a day before the panel voted to send it to the state Board of Education. While other parts of the plan have been available for public comment for weeks, few schools, teachers or families have been able to give input about the exam requirement change.

“It’s frustrating to know that we are being told if you don’t make a decision quickly then you’re legislatively up against the wall,” said Jennifer McCormick, superintendent of public instruction. “That’s why I think it’s important that decisions aren’t made in the eleventh hour that impact generations of kids.”

The state Board of Education is expected to vote on the plan next month. The Indiana General Assembly would then codify the plan in the 2018 session.

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