McCormick Decries 'Federal Overreach' on Diploma Ruling

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Jennifer McCormick is Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Jennifer McCormick is Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The U.S. Department of Education has formally denied the state's waiver request regarding the inclusion of all Indiana high school diplomas in graduate rate calculations determined by the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Indiana Department of Education says the new federal definition for "regular high school diploma" will result in about 8,000 Hoosier student diplomas not being counted in the state's graduation rate.

The state says the phrase "preponderance of students" used in the federal definition of "regular high school diploma" causes students who receive Indiana's general diploma to be omitted from the graduation rate because it is not the diploma earned by most students. Indiana has four diplomas a student can earn and the general diploma only accounts for about 12 percent of students. 

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says the USDOE exercised federal overreach in denying Indiana's waiver request. 

"Our waiver clearly demonstrated Indiana’s diploma requirements as comparable to and often times exceeding those of other states whose ESSA plans were approved," McCormick said in a news release. "This decision will have an unnecessary, but noticeable outcome on our federal graduation rates and result in a misperception that students are not performing at a proficient level."

As a result of the waiver request being denied, the IDOE says Indiana will see a one-year artificial decline in its federal graduation rate. However, the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year passed House Enrolled Act 1426, which requires the State Board of Education "to establish one standard Indiana diploma for individuals who successfully complete high school graduation requirements." The state says Indiana's federal graduate rate will normalize with the passage of the legislation.

The IDOE says diplomas with general distinction will remain as a recognized diploma in Indiana. The federal graduation rate for Indiana schools will be released May 25.

You can view the state's waiver request below:

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