Long gone are the days of taking standard English, science and math classes to reap the merits of a high school diploma. Hoosier students must now reach higher standards, but also have the flexibility to seek other options for completing high school if necessary.
Before fall of 2007, Indiana students receiving a Core 40 diploma was optional. Now it is considered the standard diploma for Hoosier students. According to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), a high school diploma means a certificate of graduation issued by the governing body of a school corporation certifying that the student has satisfied the minimum requirements for graduation from a high school of the school corporation.
“The Dept of Education participated in a project looking at what college and workforce expectations were and what made sense as far as what was required. What came back was the expectations had converged,” said Jason Bearce, spokesperson for the IDOE. “There used to be the thinking that students needed preparation if they’re going to college, but the workforce was also saying ‘we need these higher level skills in employees whether they go to college or not.’”
Indiana’s Core 40 has been determined as the academic foundation students need to succeed in life post high school. IDOE states Core 40 diplomas lead to higher college enrollments, better job opportunities, soft-skilled workers, success in college and can aid in financing a college education.
Core 40 will be a minimum college admission requirement for the state’s public four-year universities beginning in fall 2011.
Students wanting to graduate from high school must now be required to pass subject areas such as English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies; physical education/health and wellness; and electives including world languages, career/technical, and fine arts.
The state of Indiana also offers Core 40 with Academic Honors and Core 40 with Technical Honors. Students who do not receive a Core 40 diploma can receive a General Diploma.
Laverne Anderson, coordinator of high school counseling for Indianapolis Public Schools, said in order to earn a General Diploma, the parent, student, and school officials must confer and sign an official Core 40 Opt Out Form. Generally this would be done at the end of the sophomore year or thereafter.
“The difference between the Core 40 and a General Diploma is the math. The disadvantage of a General Diploma is that you may not be eligible for admission to a four-year college. It’s possible for someone to take this diploma and go to a community college,” said Anderson.
Bottom line is all Indiana high school students begin with the opportunity to receive a Core 40 diploma. A General Diploma is available for academically weak students while a last resort option for high school students with specific circumstances can receive a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
High school students are now afforded the opportunity to complete their high school diploma requirements online. The National High School is a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Commission on International and Transregional Accreditation, accredited high school diploma program. Students must take a minimum of 24 credit hours like a traditional school in order to receive a high school diploma. The program is based on the state of Georgia’s educational standards.
“Some students who are home-school students may need some extra attention with classes like mathematics or upper-level science. Or students who are having problems in a traditional high school setting can come to us,” said Nechelle Robinson, dean of students and online learning and director of assessment for the National High School.
“Students have to do what’s necessary to complete the diploma, but it gives them an alternative to sitting in a classroom,” added Robinson. “We’re a convenient program, but we’re also a rigorous program — you have to work. And our program is very successful. It’s a legitimate and accredited high school diploma.”
Robinson states there are students from all over the country, including Indiana enrolled in the program.
Joanna Franklin decided to enroll her children Travis and Courtney into the National High School. She and her husband found Indianapolis’ township schools educationally inadequate and also feared for their safety. Her kids’ grades have gone from Cs, Ds and Fs to As.
“I liked their approach. They’re very personal. They researched the children through us. They found out who the children were, what they needed and worked hard with me to put together a program that would be best for them,” said Franklin. Franklin has even set up a full classroom in her home for her kids’ learning.
In order to understand the necessary requirements for a high school diploma to ensure success, parents are encouraged to become involved in their child’s education, like Franklin has. Experts say parents can be visible at school, share concerns, participate in parent/teacher conferences or find information online. Adults who know a student who may not have parental support should let school administration know in order to find the student adequate assistance for success.
For more information, call (317) 232-6610, (800) 992-2076 or visit www.learnmoreindiana.org. The National High School can be reached at (866) 550-0210 or visit www.nationalhighschool.com.