Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School system prepares for new graduation rules

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The Duneland School Board discussed new state requirements for graduation and what they could mean for Duneland students at its meeting Monday night, after President Kristen Kroeger raised concerns about an imminent vote by the State Board of Education on new graduation requirements for Indiana students.

CHS Principal Jeff Van Drie, invited to explain the proposed changes, said that under the new requirements, students will need to meet three criteria: meeting or exceeding the credit requirements for a high school diploma, learning and demonstrating skills for employability, and demonstrating readiness for college.

Students can take on internships, receive credit for part-time jobs, or engage in service learning to meet the employability requirement, Van Drie said. Meeting the college readiness statute means passing Advanced Placement tests, taking dual credit or International Baccalaureate courses, or getting good scores on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.

When the board discussed the issue on Monday night, the new mandates were awaiting a vote from the Indiana State Board of Education. That vote occurred on Wednesday, when the measure passed 7-4. The new requirements will start in 2023, which means that current seventh-graders will be the first class to be affected. Van Drie said several groups had hoped the State Board would postpone its vote to listen to more teachers and administrators.

Duneland School Board members noted that the requirements for employability and college readiness contradict each other. For example, Kroeger asked how students who are planning to work after graduation will be expected to prove they are college ready. Van Drie replied that those students have the option of finding an apprenticeship or passing a sequence of six career-focused classes with a C or better to demonstrate readiness for their chosen field. He estimated that 15 to 20 percent of CHS students will utilize these options.

Van Drie did express concern that students may need to pick a concentration for these classes as early as freshman year, and worries that the sequence of courses could limit students’ choice of electives, especially fine arts classes.

Members noted, however, that students who make use of the partnership between CHS and the Porter County Career Center easily receive six credits in their field. CHS can also work to create more similar opportunities through Ivy Tech and Purdue University Northwest. In addition, CHS has the option to develop its own pathway for graduation and submit it to the state Board of Education for approval. Van Drie said that he’s open to this option.

“It’s not going be Chesterton that has trouble with this,” Van Drie said. “It will be more of your at-risk districts. We’ll figure it out.”

Superintendent Ginger Bolinger maintained a positive outlook. “I really believe the state board is trying to help us make sure our students have employable skills when they graduate,” she said. “It’s up to us to decide what that looks like.”

Bolinger also said that she supports any changes that could help CHS graduates get higher paying jobs right out of school and down the line, and expressed confidence in the possibility of new partnerships and a unique CHS graduation pathway. “I believe we can make some great things happen with this.”



Posted 12/8/2017




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