In response to a greater demand for high-school degrees that emphasize skills and include a more rigorous curriculum, Indiana high schools can expect to see a revised diploma system within the next few years.
In 2014, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation (HB 1213) to evaluate the state’s existing three-diploma system and explore a possible new graduation path for students, one focusing more on career and technical education. The Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Board of Education will decide whether to approve the changes.
Any changes to state statute would then be voted on by the legislature during its 2016 session. The draft proposal, released this summer, would establish three new types of diplomas: Workforce Ready, College & Career Ready, and Indiana Honors.
Since its inception in 1955, the Advanced Placement program has been used by millions of high school students who want to experience the rigor of college-level courses before graduation. The long-running program continues to gain popularity. In fact, participation in AP classes by high school graduates in the United States nearly doubled over the past decade. While AP courses are available in many high schools across the country, some states, like Indiana, require every high school to provide students with access to the classes.
For decades, the federal government’s plan for nuclear waste — both from production of nuclear weapons and from commercial nuclear reactors — has been to store all of it at a single, permanent geologic repository. But in March, the Obama administration announced a significant shift in that policy strategy.
The U.S. Department of Energy now plans “to move forward with the planning for a consent-based, defense-only repository for some of the DOE-managed high-level wastes,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said.
A year after they have left high school, 58 percent of Wisconsin students with disabilities report that they have not yet worked, participated in a job-training program or taken a postsecondary course. Rep. Robert Brooks, a first-year legislator in the state Assembly, believes the state and its schools can do better for this population.
His plan, introduced at least initially as a budget resolution, calls for new pay-for- performance incentives for school districts to improve their career- and college-readiness programs for students with disabilities.
In 1985, Minnesota became the first U.S. state to allow and provide funding for high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses. Thirty years later, the program has evolved and grown, and it may expand once again this year under a plan to improve affordability and accessibility to “concurrent enrollment”: students taking college-level courses at their own high schools.
This opportunity to earn college credits without leaving a high school campus has clearly caught on: Since 2009, participation in concurrent enrollment has grown by 24 percent.
But Minnesota Sen. Greg Clausen, a principal for 15 years in the Twin Cities area, says the state’s current level of support for the program — $2 million in net aid per year — isn’t enough to address student demand for these courses.
“It’s an underfunded program right now,” says Clausen, who has proposed an increase in state funding, to $9 million a year, under legislation introduced this year (SF 995). “We allocated [up to] $150 per student registration, and right now, that does not cover the cost. So we have our secondary schools paying out of their general fund.”
Additional state dollars would be used to reimburse school districts, expand the number of courses offered by postsecondary institutions, and pay for teacher and staff development. The bill would also make ninth- and 10th-graders eligible for concurrent enrollment, at the discretion of their districts.
After decades of experience in Nebraska’s public schools, including 15 years as a principal, Sen. Rick Kolowski learned quite a bit about the students he taught and helped graduate. One lesson learned, he says, is that young people need to be prepared for college and careers — now more than ever before. A second lesson is the value of academic and scheduling rigor, which Kolowski says not only challenges students, but also gets them excited about their future.
“We need to work on maximizing the junior and senior years of high school,” Kolowski says. “It is especially important that these students have full, rigorous schedules that get them ready for college or a career.”
As a legislator, Kolowski is now pushing for a new law that would get the state more involved in delivering a better curriculum to students in the final years of their K-12 careers. LB 343 would reimburse school districts with successful existing programs and offer grants to schools that need help in implementing new ones.