Indiana To Require More Credits, Courses for High-School Diploma

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Indiana is about to change its high-school graduation requirements for the first time in 50 years. Only Gov. Robert D. Orr's approval is required, and, since he endorsed the move earlier, state education officials believe he will act favorably.

Under a plan unanimously approved earlier this month by the state's general education commission, which acts much like a state board of education (but without its broad powers), Indiana will raise the number of credits required for graduation from 32 to 38; will double the requirement for science and mathematics courses from one year to two; and will require a fourth year of English, according to Harold Negley, state schools superintendent.

A student could substitute a third year of foreign language for the fourth year of study in English, Mr. Negley said.

Courses Omitted

The general education commission decided to omit from its new requirements a semester of fine arts and an additional credit in social studies (specifically in "world trade").

Prior to making the decision to tighten graduation standards, the commission held numerous hearings throughout the state.

"There was considerable concern among individual school boards and teacher groups that we might decimate vocational and fine-arts education," Mr. Negley said.

But he noted that the new requirements "retain the same number of required electives and ... set the high-school day to be six hours long, exclusive of noninstructional, interrupting factors such as lunch and recess."

He said schools will be able to have seven 50-minute periods, which should allow plenty of time for electives.

Mr. Negley noted that some parent-teacher groups and local school boards thought that, by introducing the new requirements, the state was further stretching its influence over local policymakers. The state department of education, Mr. Negley said, already has strong influence over schools, providing 65 percent of school operating budgets and exerting "rigid control over expenditures for construction and repairs."

750 New Teachers

About 750 new teachers in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and English (all of which are "shortage" areas) will be required to im-plement the upgraded standards, and the total cost of the program will be about $22 million--about 1 percent of the state's operating budget for education.

The graduating class of 1988 will be the first class expected to meet the new requirements. The state will introduce additional instruction in mathematics in 1985, in science in 1986, and in English in 1987.

In raising its high-school graduation requirements, Indiana is attempting to prepare students for "unanticipated changes" that will take place in the next decades, according to Mr. Negley. The state, he said, is also responding to employers who are "asking for higher levels of accomplishment" in all areas and "more comprehensive training in mathematics and sciences."--sr

Vol. 02, Issue 31

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