The future of Indiana graduation

Dr. Butts explains the new requirements

Anna Eggers, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, December 6, the Indiana State Board of Education cleared a vote 7-4 to alter graduation pathways for students all across Indiana starting with the class of 2023. These students will be freshman starting in 2019, which will be the first year where these effects will truly take place.

MSD of Wayne Township Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts had a strong voice against these changes as the school board started discussing their interest in them.

“Right now, we don’t have the accountability system modified for students to move out of the current system. We have two different groups going through right now, one who have to take the ECA for Math and English, and one who will instead take the ISTEP 10. For the people in these groups, there may be a chance to follow this new system,” Dr. Butts said.

Current sophomores are some of the students who currently have to take ISTEP 10 in order to graduate, but seniors follow a slightly different path where they take the Math and English ECA or End of Course Assessments as part of their graduation requirements.

However, these new changes are throwing all of us in a loop with three major boxes students will have to check.

“Students starting in 2019 will have to have the core 40, as well as displaying employability skills, which could be service learning, an internship, or it may include your extracurricular or co-curricular activities. We’re not for sure, we have to find out the parameters on that. And then there’s a third component. It’s the academic assessment outside of the diploma. So we have box one (earning the core 40 diploma), box two (displaying the employability skill) and box three (includes passing either the ASVAB with a 31, the SAT with a college-ready 1010, or a college-ready ACT score, or have 3 classes with a C or better in advanced placements, international baccalaureate, or dual credit, where one of them have to be in a core area).

“You can also pass three Cambridge examinations, or pass three CLEP examinations but those aren’t as well known in Wayne Township. If a student doesn’t earn a C or higher in advanced placement, they can pass at a 3 or higher on the test and still be able to keep it as a valid test,” Dr. Butts said.

The options with this new system are endless. However, with many of the options, some disadvantages are quick to present themselves. For students who decide to make their third box be checked off with 3 AP classes, if they take any of those three during their senior year there’s a good chance they won’t receive their score for the end AP test until after their graduation. If they don’t pass the class, nor the test, it could pose problems for them if they would truly be able to graduate on time.

“If we’re looking at it today, the biggest concern is that the core diploma that would be required would be the Core 40. Twelve percent of graduates earn a general diploma, mostly because of Algebra 2.

“So if we can look at a diploma that may not require Algebra 2, it may allow for students who are going into the military and may need a different math to be able to graduate while a student going to college who needs the Algebra 2 to be able to get their diploma as well. However, if it were to go into effect this year, the class of 2017 in Wayne Township would have a 12 percent less graduation rate, with other districts having effects up to 40 percent drops with due to what would be added to qualify to graduate,” Dr. Butts said.

Graduation rates are a pride of Wayne Township, and it makes these changes so much more significant. Every staff member in our Township is going to start working together to ensure our students will keep their bright futures. Considering the dedication and resources that Wayne has, it raises curiosity on how these changes may affect other schools as well.

“Our administrative staff went through the class of 2017 and it’s not much different. We already try to give kids a chance to multiple pathways, so our students are going to be at a much greater advantage compared to students in another part of the state. That was one of the conversations we’ve talked about throughout the last couple months- what about those schools who don’t have those resources? How will their students navigate through these pathways? How will they have enough options to graduate?

“Some schools in Indiana are in a very rural place and so students wouldn’t have as good of a chance for work. Other schools don’t have as many advanced placement opportunities,” Dr. Butts said.

Standardized testing and advanced placements have been an important piece of the puzzle for students in Wayne for a while, but these changes may flip around the way that we take certain tests and afford them.

“Then there’s the question of what will happen if a student doesn’t pass the SATs- will they retake it, who will pay for it? The budgeting piece has been a very large concern because they haven’t yet done a fiscal analysis to find out how much it would cost for every single student in Indiana to take the SATs and during the day. Right now you have to take it on Saturday. This way, hypothetically, they’ll take it on a Wednesday during schools.

“So to be able to provide students all the options they need, should we have all students take the ASVAB? And have all the students take the SATs? These are some conversations we’ll have in Wayne Township as we decide how we’re going to guide the class of 2023 to navigate through the new requirements,” Dr. Butts said.