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Indiana Becomes First State to Significantly Redesign Diplomas

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  • Current: Indiana Becomes First State to Significantly Redesign Diplomas

Proposed, streamlined diplomas focus on knowledge, skills and competencies that matter most to students

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: Molly Williams
(317) 234-3880

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) today presented a proposal to streamline the number of high school diplomas, while maximizing flexibility for students to personalize learning pathways and experiences. This is part of the state’s ongoing, collaborative effort to rethink the high school experience, making it more learner-centric and career-relevant, and kicks off four months of public feedback to enhance the proposed plan.

“In talking to stakeholders across the state, one thing I have heard on repeat is that, ‘if’ high school looked different for students, ‘then’ we could better connect them to what’s next. The reality is, the structure of the American high school experience has not changed for most students in over one-hundred years,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education, “In K-12 education, we have an incredible opportunity to help every student find their purpose, know their value and understand the possibilities for their life’s path. This means allowing students the flexibility to experience work-based learning, increase their educational attainment by earning a credential and personalize their journey to achieve their unique goals.”

For the first time ever, Indiana’s diplomas would be aligned to the state’s current graduation pathways, as well as the five characteristics of an Indiana Graduate Prepared to Succeed (Indiana GPS), which include: academic mastery; career and postsecondary readiness (credentials and experiences); communication and collaboration; work ethic; and civic, financial and digital literacy. These represent the five characteristics that Hoosier stakeholders consistently agree are essential for graduates, and are part of Indiana’s Profile of a Graduate, which was established in 2021 after extensive public input.

In the proposal presented to the State Board of Education (SBOE) on Wednesday, Indiana’s future diplomas would include:

  • Indiana GPS Diploma (a more flexible, personalized version of the current Core 40 diploma)
  • Indiana GPS Diploma Plus

For all students, regardless of the diploma type they earn, learning in ninth and 10th grades would be strategically focused on essential knowledge and skills. This will be achieved through a set of foundational courses, aligned to the Indiana GPS characteristics, as well as opportunities for students to demonstrate competencies, both within the school and beyond. This structure allows for additional flexibility and personalization in 11th and 12th grades.

In addition to the foundational courses and competencies for all students, students pursuing the proposed Indiana GPS Diploma must also complete a minimum of 20 additional points, earned through a combination of courses and experiences. Students will use the already statutorily-required individual graduation plan, first completed in middle school, to determine initial course sequences.

After completing their foundational coursework and competencies, students pursuing the proposed Indiana GPS Diploma Plus must complete additional coursework necessary to earn their chosen credential of value, as well as complete a high-quality work-based learning experience.

Today’s presentation accompanied formal approval by SBOE to initiate the rulemaking process. Prior to the Board’s final adoption of new diploma requirements, there will be two public comment periods as the proposal evolves. The first public comment period will officially open later this spring. However, the public may provide immediate feedback at any time via this Jotform, which asks for additional solution-ideas, as well tools and resources that would be most helpful in supporting implementation.

Indiana’s current graduation requirements will sunset October 1, 2028, making final requirements effective for all students beginning with the class of 2029 (Indiana’s current seventh graders). Schools may opt-in beginning with the completion of Board rule-making. Indiana will also continue to offer the federally-required alternate diploma, which is designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

In order to lift every student to a better life through education, Indiana continues to make strategic investments and enact policies to rethink the four years of high school. Below are examples of this cross-agency work –

  • Expanded opportunities for students to explore, engage and experience a range of potential careers in elementary, middle and high school through the 3E Grant. In total, $57 million was awarded to schools and community partners in all 92 counties to incentivize and support early exposure to career options;
  • Accelerated credential completion through Crossing the Finish Line, which provides high school students, who are just a few credits away from earning a credential, with free tuition, fees, books and other expenses. In 2023 alone over 3,900 participating students and families saved over $8 million;
  • Created a consortia of urban school districts across Indiana identified as future leaders in the Early College model and connected them to experienced mentor schools;
  • Supported schools in teaching and measuring key skills through the Employability Skills Grant, which awarded $10 million to 58 schools across 40 counties;
  • Increased college affordability and going rates for our state’s most at-risk students by auto-enrolling eligible students in the state’s 21st Century Scholars Program;
  • Helped more students gain both financial and digital literacy skills by requiring financial literacy and computer science courses for high school graduation. These courses may be taken in middle school, allowing additional course flexibility in high school;
  • Implemented the first-in-the-nation Career Scholarship Account (CSA) program designed to support the completion of credentials of value and high-quality work-based learning experiences, including modern youth apprenticeships;
  • Streamlined K-12 Indiana Academic Standards in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and computer science, reducing standards in each core subject area by 25% or more to ensure students are honing in on essential content;
  • Re-envisioned how school and student performance is measured through the Indiana GPS performance dashboard. This dashboard provides students and stakeholders with learner-centered, future-focused data that displays how Indiana’s students are building the necessary knowledge and skills for success; and
  • Redesigning school accountability in alignment with Indiana GPS and the new diploma requirements. Per statute, IDOE will provide the Indiana General Assembly with future accountability recommendations by December 1, 2024.

To learn more about the proposed, streamlined diplomas, click here.