The state of Indiana is moving forward with a big proposal for its high schools. Stakeholders across the state have come together to propose meaningful changes in order to invest in its students and future generation of workforce talent.

Last month, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education voted and approved changes to the state's high school diploma requirements. The Indiana Career Council's Core 40 Subcommittee has developed new standards for high schools in order to better prepare students for life after high school. The proposal emphasizes the importance of career and college-readiness, and a high school education that defines clear structure, expectations, and meaningful course load for students. These changes would alter the current diploma pathways options for students and replace them with more career-focused and academically-rigorous diploma track options for students.

Big Changes for Diploma Options

For over a year, the Core 40 Subcommittee has worked on preparing a proposal to create new diploma options for Indiana's high school students. The Subcommittee developed the proposal by consulting a diverse set of groups including academic and workforce institutions, public stakeholders, as well as the Indiana State Department of Education. Now the changes will await approval from the State Board of Education this fall, and from the Indiana General Assembly in the 2016 legislative season.

High school students in Indiana already have multiple diploma options. Differences in diploma tracks are currently based on the level of academic rigor a student wishes to pursue, but none have clear focus and expectations for preparing students for their future. Under the new proposal, three new diploma options, the College & Career Ready diploma, the Workforce Ready diploma and the College & Career Ready diploma with honors, would replace the current four diploma options. The new pathways would allow students to specialize in an area of interest, and more rigorous academic standards, including more credit requirements and four years of math, students will be able be better positioned to be able to show what they have accomplished and what they're capable of.

Proven Success

21 states currently offer multiple diploma options for high school students1, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Indiana comes in 7th for high school graduation rate at 87 percent. Indiana is not only working to create options so students can develop their interests and career ambitions, but is strategically investing in developing its future workforce. Through this new system, schools can work on identifying workforce needs and work to align student interest with relevant career tracks.

For students looking to go to postsecondary education, these new diploma options give students the opportunity to explore fields of study, and really identify where their interests lie so the feel more prepared when applying for college or postsecondary training. For students looking to find a job after high school, their diploma track requires focused career exploration through a College and Career Readiness Sequence with a graduation capstone experience. Students gain workforce or postsecondary experience in chosen career field, plus all students under the new proposal changes would be required to take a personal financial literacy course as an additional means to prepare students for life after graduation.

Taking Action at the State Level

Though these new diplomas wouldn't go into effect until the 2018-9 school year, Indiana has taken education reform into its own hands, driving the focus on providing students concrete foundations for success, boosting student confidence and knowledge on the future, and investing in the workforce of tomorrow. It's important to provide meaningful options for young adults so they can understand what lies ahead, the options available to them, and pathways to achieve their aspirations.

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Resources: Photo Credit (1) Indiana Contemplates Changing High School Diplomas (2) Higher Education Commission Approves Changes to Indiana's High School Diplomas (3) Indiana's high school diplomas are about to get an overhaul (4) Diploma requirement changes aim to put Indiana high school students on track for careers