Rethinking High School in Indiana

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Rethinking High School in Indiana

Written by: Flora Jones

May 20, 2024

To ensure every student’s K-12 experience adequately prepares them for their unique path ahead, Indiana is the first state in the nation to significantly redesign diplomas. Indiana’s redesigned diplomas will increase flexibility, personalization, and relevance, while maintaining rigorous standards for all.

Rethinking High School Infographic.
Courtesy Indiana Department of Education

The inspiration for these redesigned diplomas comes from the impactful work already underway at schools across Indiana. This is our opportunity to lead, and ultimately, lift all Hoosiers to better lives through education.

In March 2024, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) presented a proposal to streamline the number of high school diplomas, while maximizing flexibility for students to personalize learning pathways and experiences. This is part of the state’s ongoing, collaborative effort to rethink the high school experience, making it more learner-centric and career-relevant, and kicks off four months of public feedback to enhance the proposed plan.

“In talking to stakeholders across the state, one thing I have heard on repeat is that, ‘if’ high school looked different for students, ‘then’ we could better connect them to what’s next. The reality is, the structure of the American high school experience has not changed for most students in over one-hundred years,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education, “In K-12 education, we have an incredible opportunity to help every student find their purpose, know their value and understand the possibilities for their life’s path. This means allowing students the flexibility to experience work-based learning, increase their educational attainment by earning a credential and personalize their journey to achieve their unique goals.”

For the first time ever, Indiana’s diplomas would be aligned to the state’s current Graduation Pathways, as well as the five characteristics of an Indiana Graduate Prepared to Succeed (GPS), which include: academic mastery; career and postsecondary readiness (credentials and experiences); communication and collaboration; work ethic; and civic, financial, and digital literacy. These represent the five characteristics that Hoosier stakeholders consistently agree are essential for graduates and are part of Indiana’s Profile of a Graduate, which was established in 2021 after extensive public input.

In the proposal presented to the State Board of Education (SBOE) in March, Indiana’s future diplomas would include:

  • Indiana GPS Diploma (a more flexible, personalized version of the current Core 40 diploma)
  • Indiana GPS Diploma Plus

“For all students, regardless of the diploma type they earn, learning in ninth and 10th grades would be strategically focused on essential knowledge and skills.”

For all students, regardless of the diploma type they earn, learning in grades nine and 10 would be strategically focused on essential knowledge and skills. This will be achieved through a set of foundational courses, aligned to the Indiana GPS characteristics, as well as opportunities for students to demonstrate competencies, both within the school and beyond. This structure allows for additional flexibility and personalization in grades 11 and 12.

In addition to the universal foundational courses and competencies, students pursuing the proposed Indiana GPS Diploma must also complete a minimum of 20 additional points earned through a combination of courses and experiences. Students will use the current statutorily-required individual graduation plan, first completed in middle school, to determine initial course sequences.

After completing their foundational coursework and competencies, students pursuing the proposed Indiana GPS Diploma Plus must complete additional coursework necessary to earn their chosen credential of value, as well as complete a high-quality work-based learning experience.

The March presentation accompanied formal approval by SBOE to initiate the rulemaking process. Two public comment periods will be available prior to SBOE’s final adoption of new diploma requirements. The public may provide feedback via this JotForm, which asks for additional solution-ideas and recommended tools and resources that would be most helpful in supporting implementation.

Indiana’s current graduation requirements will sunset on October 1, 2028, making final requirements effective for all students beginning with the class of 2029 (Indiana’s current seventh graders). Schools may opt in upon completion of SBOE rule-making. Indiana will continue to offer the federally-required alternate diploma, which is designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

“In order to lift every student to a better life through education, Indiana continues to make strategic investments and enact policies to rethink the four years of high school.”

In order to lift every student to a better life through education, Indiana continues to make strategic investments and enact policies to rethink the four years of high school. Below are examples of this cross-agency work:

  • Expanded opportunities for students to explore, engage in, and experience a range of potential careers in elementary, middle, and high school through the 3E Grant. In total, $57 million was awarded to schools and community partners in all 92 counties to incentivize and support early exposure to career options;
  • Accelerated credential completion through Crossing the Finish Line, which provides high school students who are just a few credits away from earning a credential with free tuition, fees, books and other expenses. In 2023 alone, over 3,900 participating students and families saved over $8 million through this initiative;
  • Created a consortia of urban school districts across Indiana identified as future leaders in the Early College model and connected them to experienced mentor schools;
  • Supported schools in teaching and measuring key skills through the Employability Skills Grant, which awarded $10 million to 58 schools across 40 counties;
  • Increased college affordability and going rates for our state’s most at-risk students by auto-enrolling eligible students in the state’s 21st Century Scholars Program;
  • Helped more students gain both financial and digital literacy skills by requiring financial literacy and computer science courses for high school graduation. These courses may be taken in middle school, allowing additional course flexibility in high school;
  • Implemented the first-in-the-nation Career Scholarship Account (CSA) program designed to support the completion of credentials of value and high-quality work-based learning experiences, including modern youth apprenticeships;
  • Streamlined K-12 Indiana Academic Standards in English/language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and computer science, reducing standards in each core subject area by 25% or more to ensure students are honing in on essential content;
  • Re-envisioned how school and student performance is measured through the Indiana GPS performance dashboard. This dashboard provides students and stakeholders with learner-centered, future-focused data that displays how Indiana’s students are building the necessary knowledge and skills for success; and
  • Redesigning school accountability in alignment with Indiana GPS and the new diploma requirements. Per statute, IDOE will provide the Indiana General Assembly with future accountability recommendations by December 1, 2024.

To learn more about the proposed, streamlined diplomas, click here.



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  • Flora Jones

    Ms. Jones is a proud school administrator and professional school counselor with over twenty years of experience in the field of education. She prides herself in being a servant leader who has devoted her life to helping students find their passion and purpose and develop a plan for their future. In her role as IDOE’s Director of Student Pathways and Opportunities, she is responsible for setting the direction of pathway opportunities for students related to Graduation Pathways and Locally Created Pathways, regional work-based learning opportunities and support, dual credit credentialing for school staff to increase student access to college coursework, postsecondary credentialing for students and moving the terminal end point of high school beyond the graduation stage. She is also responsible for the support and guidance in the area of high abilities, alternative educational programming, homeless children and youth, homeschool initiatives, and military children and families.

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