Graduation requirements altered

Graduation Pathways, the new set of graduation requirements for the class of 2023 and beyond, was finalized on Nov. 7, 2017.

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Graduation Pathways, the new set of graduation requirements for the class of 2023 and beyond, was finalized on Nov. 7, 2017.

Throughout middle and high school, students have been taking tests and classes in order to meet the requirements to graduate. Students can take classes to prepare themselves for their futures whether that be attending college, pursuing a career or taking time to decide how they want to spend their lives. Recently, there have been a number of changes in the requirements to graduate in order to prepare students for any path they choose.

According to Principal Brian Knight, some schools have placed the idea into students’ heads that to succeed in life, they have to go to college. Although this may be true in a number of different fields, there are a substantial amount of careers and jobs that do not require an education beyond high school. Indiana is trying to steer the school systems away from focusing on going to college and allowing students to have more of a choice in their educational path, so Graduation Pathways was created.

“With Graduation Pathways, there is now multiple ways to get to the (graduation) requirements,” Knight said.

Graduation Pathways was finalized on Nov. 7, 2017 during a panel for the Indiana State Board of Education. Graduation Pathways will begin with the graduating class of 2023, which are the current eighth grade students. The objective of Graduation Pathways is to provide every student with the skills to succeed in anything after high school, whether it be for postsecondary education or a certain career.

Three concepts are required to graduate through Graduation Pathways, including the possession of a high school diploma, the ability to learn and the ability to demonstrate employability skills and postsecondary-ready competencies. These requirements come with multiple options for each, and students must satisfy at least one of the options within each individual requirement.

The requirements to receive a high school diploma will remain the same. To graduate, students have to meet criteria for either the Core 40 Diploma, Core 40 with Technical Honors Diploma or the Academic Honors Diploma.

In addition to the high school diploma, Graduation Pathways requires  the ability to learn and demonstrate employability skills. These include project-based, service-based and work-based skills. According to the Indiana State Board of Education, project-based skills are meant to challenge the mind to work through certain problems or projects, like extended research projects, volunteering or completing an internship. There are many other options within this category and more can be completed with the approval of the State Board of Education.

Along with the need for a high school diploma and employability skills, it is also necessary to complete something that falls under the postsecondary-ready competencies category. Taking the ACT, SAT or ASVAB are all potential options to meet this requirement. Apprenticeships and College Level Exam Programs can also allow the student to meet the requirements. Students only need to participate in one of these to graduate.

Under these three categories, students are expected to participate, complete and succeed in at least one of the multiple options that fall under the first two categories as well as receive a diploma. Knight believes that this will make a massive impact on the school and students.

“I hope this gets us back to where we can become more of an all-encompassing high school where all of these different roles are valued,” Knight said.

According to Knight, since there is a diverse selection of jobs available, not all require a college education, so the ultimate goal is to prepare students for what they are individually interested in.

I hope this gets us back to where we can become more of an all-encompassing high school where all of these different roles are valued.

— Principal Brian Knight

The idea of changing the requirements was brought up in late 2017. The State Board of Education realized that there was a large push in sending students to college rather than seeking out other opportunities.

“I think that some of this focus of just college readiness had undervalued kids going into other types of careers,” Knight said.

Careers like being a mechanic or an electrician, for example, do not require a college education. Knight believes that without people to do these jobs, it would be more difficult for people to live their everyday lives even if they do not necessarily need assistance from people working in these fields. Since the idea of attending a college was shaping the minds of the students instead of leaving them open-minded, the State Board of Education was trying to find a way to educate kids to be either college-ready or career-ready.

Changing the requirements has resulted in a domino effect, in which numerous departments, like guidance, have to make alterations in order to steadily function. Guidance counselor Tricia Bender says that the school has a number of plans for the program that are not fully determined yet, and the process for its implementation is currently being evaluated by SHS and Perry Township.

“We’ve talked to counselors at other schools about how everyone is going to work with it,” Bender said. “Then, as a township, we have to come together to plan it.”

Graduation Pathways will directly affect future SHS students. Although the program is put into place for eighth graders and under, some current high school students have their own opinions on it, including junior Ryan Lezon, who has confidence that the program will be beneficial.

“I think it is a good thing because it gives people more opportunities,” Lezon said. “It also gives people hope that there is a different solution to every problem.”

Lezon has two younger sisters who who attend a private school nearby. Graduation Pathways is being applied at every school in Indiana, so his sisters will experience the change in the graduation requirements.

Knight also believes that the program will help expand some of the departments at SHS like the business and family consumer science departments. He also hopes that Graduation Pathways adds value to the different paths within the school and community.

“I’d like to see some growth with those different opportunities that we have here,” Knight said. “I hope this allows us to diversify and just value those different opportunities.”