Indiana lawmakers seek to halt new graduation guidelines

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers seek a moratorium on federal guidelines that would lower the state’s high school graduation rate.

Thousands of Indiana diplomas won’t be counted toward the state’s graduation rate under new rules from the U.S. Department of Education and the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The state’s had a nearly 90 percent graduation rate for the class of 2016. The new guidelines wouldn’t have counted about 8,600 General Diplomas and would’ve dropped that year’s rate at about 76 percent.

Indiana’s congressional delegation sent a letter this week to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking the education department allow states time to adjust to the guidelines. Halting the legislation would allow current juniors and seniors receive their diplomas without penalty and give lawmakers time to adjust the state’s diploma requirements, lawmakers said.

“This sudden and swift change in definition could have a significant negative impact on Hoosier families,” said Rep. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City. “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.”

Lower graduation rates would result in schools receiver lower performance grades. Public schools which score low could see state intervention, while charter schools face nonrenewal and private schools may see caps on scholarships.

The state currently offers three diplomas: the General Diploma, Core 40 and the Core 40 Honors Diploma. The honors diploma includes academic honors, technical honors and International Baccalaureate diplomas.