By Scott Backus
Principal, Tippecanoe Valley Middle School
AKRON — The staff at Tippecanoe Valley Middle School works very hard to make sure our students have the skills necessary to move successfully to high school. Our task is to make sure that every student has a solid foundation for the work they will need to do at the high school to be successful and graduate. As graduation requirements have changed in Indiana in recent years, TVMS has responded by offering specific high school credit courses to help kids get a head start on their journey toward graduation.
This past December, the Indiana State Board of Education voted to change graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2023, our current seventh graders. This decision at the state level will again impact course offerings at TVMS moving forward.
Under the newly approved graduation pathways, the graduating class of 2023 will need to meet the following requirements:
- Earn academic credit to obtain a high school diploma.
- Learn and demonstrate employability skills through a project-based learning experience, service-based learning experience, or a work-based learning experience.
- Complete post-secondary competencies by doing one of the following: earning an honors diploma, completing an apprenticeship or career-technical courses or meeting college-ready standards for ACT, SAT, ASVAB, or other lesser known tests.
These new standards are being advertised as allowing students more academic choice, flexibility, value and relevance as they journey through high school and into college or a career. But they are also forcing some really crucial life decisions to be made by students very early in their educational career, so it is critical that TVMS students explore these options before they get to high school.
The question we have to address locally is how will this affect our kids? Cripe, TVHS principal, and I have had many discussions about the impact of these new rules on our students. There is still a great deal that is unknown, but here is how we see this impacting our kids:
- Our academic honors students will see little impact on their path to college. A student earning an academic honors diploma fulfills all three requirements.
- In most cases students who do not earn an academic honors diploma will have to choose a Career Technology Education career pathway to graduate.
There are many graduation pathway options with CTE under the new rules and it is CRITICAL that parents and students educate themselves on what has to happen for graduation pathway requirements to be met successfully.
The prerequisite course for all CTE pathways (under standard 3 above) is Preparing for Colleges and Careers. All current eighth grade students at TVMS are taking this course during the second trimester and earning a high school credit for successful completion of the course. This course will remain at TVMS for the foreseeable future to allow students to get a head start on the more rigorous graduation requirements. We are also looking at the possibility of introductory courses for the CTE requirement occurring in family and consumer science, Project Lead the Way and agriculture in the future to help our students meet these requirements. Currently, students in eighth grade have the opportunity to take algebra and biology for high school credit if they are academically ready for those courses. We will continue to offer high school credit in algebra, but biology will likely return to the high school after this year based on the new rules.
I strongly urge parents to research the new requirements if you have a child currently in seventh grade or younger. Tippecanoe Valley is working to make sure every student has planning and support for the new requirements as we continue to learn about them ourselves.
At TVMS, we are committed to student success and will continue to do whatever it takes to equip all students to be outstanding – today, tomorrow and beyond.