The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to approve new requirements mandating that students do more to graduate from high school in the years to come.
The new requirements passed on a 7-4 vote after hours of testimony from those who overwhelmingly opposed the changes, including educators and labor unions.
Beginning in 2023, students will have to complete additional coursework, demonstrate employability skills through service or work projects, or show they're ready for college by receiving high scores on exams that include the SAT and ACT.
The added rigor has stoked fears that the graduation rate will plummet and local schools will be overworked administering the requirements. But others see it as necessary to ensure students are ready for either college or the workplace.
"I am disappointed in the board's vote today. Following hours of public comments and hundreds of emails from parents, teachers, counselors and school administrators, asking members to slow down and figure out the many unknowns, their voices were ignored," said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
The recommendations were approved 7-4,. Board members Maryanne McMahon, Cari Whicker, Steve Yager, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick voted no.
Goshen High School Principal Barry Younghans, previously said one of the biggest issues is the scoring requirement for those on the college track. He said the scores that students must achieve are already set higher than necessary.
Younghans said he wouldn't be surprised to see a significant drop in overall graduation rates in the future if the proposal is approved.
The proposal does have supporters, though.
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette previously reported that Mark Melnick, with Benteler Automotive in Goshen, supports training for jobs that don't require a college education.
He said that when looking at students emerging from Indiana schools one reason for the lack of skilled workers is an overemphasis on the college track. He especially lauded the apprenticeship recommendation.
"Middle school needs to plant the seed that there are honorable and well-paid jobs that do not require a college degree," Melnick said according to the Journal Gazette.
Local districts can also create their own pathway but the State Board of Education would have to approve, the Journal Gazette reported.