Indiana panel recommends changes to graduation requirements

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — An Indiana panel working to create new graduation guidelines for the state’s high schools has recommended getting rid of 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.

Republican Rep. Bob Behning of Indianapolis sits on the 14-person panel and chairs the House Education Committee. He says college entrance exams are more valuable to students.

“It’s an interesting thing to look at and that was the first time that had been presented to the board. So I’m going to appreciate getting feedback in the area from superintendents and principals and stuff about what their thoughts are,” Cari Whicker said.

Whicker is the principal at Southern Wells Elementary and is on the state board of education. She thinks there are positives and negatives to this latest idea.

The college-ready exams would count as the federal and state-required accountability exams for high school. Whicker thinks other than preparing for a competitive college, another positive is it could save money. “The state would be picking up the costs for the SATs and the ACTs. We would be recouping some of the money. We would be recouping all of the money from the ECAs.”

Wendy Robinson, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools has a strong opinion about Pathways and all of the changes. “It’s extremely frustrating that I thought what the Pathways was made sense and it’s become a politically charged nightmare.”

She thinks the people making plans have limited input from people that are “on the ground” every day. “The thing that the public doesn’t get is we’ve created a crisis saying that what we were doing was so wrong it has to be completely revised.”

Robinson said there have been so many revisions and ideas she’s even having a hard time keeping it all straight. And yet discussion still far from over. “Being frustrated is one thing. Being proactive is another. I hope we wake up before it’s too late.”

Behning said this idea is nothing new. “The only thing that has really changed is a recommendation that the general assembly look at changing language from using ECA as our federal accountability standard to a nationally recognized college benchmark which would be ACT or SAT.”

This could come to a vote at the general assembly in December.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.