New high school graduation requirements approved by the state education board, opposed by Indiana’s schools chief, have the support of the governor.
The Indiana State Board of Education approved recommended changes on Dec. 6 by a 7-4 vote. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick was among the board members who voted against the proposal, called Graduation Pathways.
State lawmakers still must pass the proposed new requirements, and will take them up after the Indiana General Assembly reconvenes Jan. 3. The new requirements, which would become effective with the graduating class of 2023, include:
Earning a diploma based on credit requirements from the state
Learning and demonstrating employability skills through project-based, work-based or service-based learning experiences
Requiring students to earn or meet requirements for a range of other assessments, such as the state’s Honors diploma, ACT or SAT exams, an apprenticeship or dual-credit courses
Opponents, including McCormick, said more time was needed to examine the proposals and fine-tune requirements. Opponents also cited concerns about costs involved with implementing the requirements, and the possibility that they will cause graduation rates to tumble.
However, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he thinks the new requirements will help students gain the skills they need for their careers.
“I support the Pathways, and I think it’s critical we have high expectations for our soon-to-be high school graduates. When they leave high school, they have a ticket to their success in their hand, that they’re able to pursue something they’re passionate about,” Holcomb said.
“That requires a pathway leading up to that, and walking across the stage with their diploma. I want that pathway to be lit up for that student so they don’t just have high expectations about their future, but high confidence that they’ll be able to determine their own destiny,” he said.
Using graduation criteria consisting of greater requirements is important, the governor said, because too many Hoosiers lack the education and skills needed to fill many jobs today and jobs of the future. That’s why the state started the Skill Up Indiana! program, Holcomb said. It pays students to enroll in the program, where they learn skills and earn certifications needed in the manufacturing industry so they can potentially be direct hires for companies.
Holcomb noted that 350,000 Hoosier adults do not have a high school diploma, and 742,000 started college but quit. This is at a time when 96,000 jobs are unfilled in key sectors, and the state announced in November another 30,000 jobs coming to the state because of investments by foreign and domestic companies.
Aiding jobs in Columbus
Among the new job investments was one by India-based AXISCADES, a global product engineering and technology solutions company that chose Columbus as its North American headquarters. The company will initially lease space at 810 Brown St., which will house management functions.
AXISCADES serves the aerospace, defense, heavy engineering, automotive, energy, medical and healthcare sectors.
It will begin with 10 jobs in Columbus, but the company anticipates creating up to 100 new jobs statewide within the first year, and up to 500 total, high-wage jobs statewide by the end of 2023.
Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp. President Jason Hester credited the governor for making the deal happen when he visited India on an economic mission in late October and early November.
Holcomb said it was an example of Indiana being able to meet a company’s need.
AXISCADES has operations in Canada and Illinois, but was looking in the Midwest for a location for its North American headquarters.
“We shared Indiana’s success story: the certainty we provide, the stability and the predictability, and the incredible, world-class network of colleges and universities — those feeder systems, pipelines to their workforce, the engineers that will be required,” Holcomb said.
The governor also credited Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop for making the deal come together, saying he acted at the speed of business, always answering questions the company had.
“Time is money and opportunity,” Holcomb said. “Having a partner like the mayor with the governor and the leadership at AXISCADES all be able to sit down at a table and address all the needs and meet them, here we are.”