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Change In Federal Graduation Rate Could Impact A-F Grades Of Indiana Schools
Updated August 1, 2017 1:04 PM | Filed under: Education
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - A change in the way the federal graduation rate is calculated will likely impact accountability grades for schools across Indiana.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, students who receive a general diploma will not be counted toward a school's graduation rate. The graduation rate is part of what determines a school's A-F grades.

"Students who earn a Core 40, honors or IB diploma will count as graduates," said Maggie Paino, accountability director for the IDOE told FOX59 News.

The change is due to the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires the graduation rate be based on students earning the "regular state diploma." Since a majority of students in Indiana earn the Core 40 diploma, that is considered the regular state diploma.

But, leaders in districts where many students opt for the general diploma option are worried that they will see a significant dip in both their graduation rates and A-F grades.

Students end up on the general diploma track through a parent's request, if they fail three or more Core 40 courses or test in the bottom 25th percentile on the state graduation exam. Students who want to go straight into the workforce after high school, instead of heading to college, often aim for the general diploma. Since they don't have to take as many science and math classes, the students are able to focus on more of the vocational classes available in high school in order to be prepared for the workforce..

Officials are concerned about how the focus might shift away from career technical training as districts feel pressure to get more students to graduate with a Core 40 diploma, which requires additional math, science and social studies credits.

Many of the state's special education students also take the general diploma path.

Officials from the IDOE said students who get the general diploma will still be able to go on to community college, as they have in the past. The difference will be how those diplomas are counted at the federal level.

"The impact of the federal guidance is really about impact on accountability rates," said Dr. John Keller, Chief Technology Officer for IDOE. "There's no practical bearing on how the diploma can be used."

The department is waiting for further guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on when these changes must be implemented.

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