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Banks, Indiana Delegation Write To Secretary DeVos Regarding Indiana Graduation Rate
Updated September 19, 2017 3:19 AM | Filed under: Education
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FORT WAYNE) - Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) Monday led a bipartisan and bicameral letter signed by the entire Indiana Congressional delegation to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking her to pause implementation of the Department of Education's new high school graduation rate formula.

The Department recently informed the Indiana Department of Education that high school "general diploma" recipients will no longer count towards the state's official graduation rate.

Previously, the federal government allowed Indiana to count students who choose the "general diploma" track and the "regular diploma track" in its high school graduation rate. However, the U.S. Department of Education implemented new regulations this year that fail to allow Indiana to include "general diploma" track students in its graduation rate.

The change in definition would have dropped Indiana's high school graduation rate from 89% to 76% in 2016.

"This sudden and swift change in definition could have a significant negative impact on Hoosier families," said Banks. "Indiana should be given time to adjust to the new guidance to avoid the negative economic and educational consequences associated with a sudden and steep drop in high-school graduation rates. All members of the Indiana delegation are committed to finding a solution, and I am hopeful that the Department of Education will work with us."

The letter sent by the Indiana delegation asks the Department to allow current high school juniors and seniors to be allowed to complete their General Diplomas to give the state time to adjust to the new definition. A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Elizabeth DeVos
Secretary
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos,

The Indiana congressional delegation asks the U.S. Department of Education to use its administrative discretion to impose a temporary moratorium on the use and reporting of the new federal high school graduation rate definition guided by language in the Every Student Succeeds Act. A temporary delay would provide Indiana and similarly situated state governments the necessary time to properly adjust diploma policies to align with the educational accountability the law seeks. The State of Indiana cannot act to make the proper policy adjustments without authorization by the Indiana General Assembly, which meets next in 2018. Implementing a change in State diploma policy will also require the State to inform local school districts on the new policy, and assist in statewide implementation.

Implementing the definition immediately could cause unintended and unnecessary impacts on educational outcomes and economic development of Indiana based on a misconception that high school student completion in the state suddenly and inexplicably plummeted. Based on 2016 data, the immediate change in definition would reduce Indiana's reported graduation rate from approximately 89 percent to 76 percent.
Indiana students currently choose to move to a General Diploma from a Core 40 Diploma at the end of the sophomore year. Allowing for current high school juniors and seniors to complete their General Diploma track, while providing the State the necessary time to phase out the General Diploma option would prevent such an unnecessary and potentially harmful statistical event.

The State of Indiana does not oppose the new definition, only its immediate implementation. We ask for the Administration to work in cooperation with Indiana and other affected states to provide the educational accountability sought by the Every Student Succeeds Act without unduly penalizing states working in good faith to improve the public education for all our current and future students. We look forward to working with the Department of Education on a solution that achieves these shared objectives.

Sincerely,

Senator Joe Donnelly
Senator Todd Young
Congressman Jim Banks
Congressman Pete Visclosky
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski
Congressman Todd Rokita
Congresswoman Susan Brooks
Congressman Luke Messer
Congressman André Carson
Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D.
Congressman Trey Hollingsworth



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