Behning: Preparing students for life after high school

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 26, 2018 3:00 pm

As the skills needed to be successful in a career continue to evolve and change, it’s vital that we start taking steps to ensure students are prepared to enter the ultra-competitive, global workforce once they graduate from high school. Over the last few years, I have worked with students, parents, educators and business leaders from across the state to find ways to empower Hoosier students with more control over their academic and career goals.

As I talked to students, parents and educators, it became apparent that our current, one-size-fits-all diploma and graduation system does not fully prepare students for every option available after high school. Hoosier students have different aspirations from their peers and would benefit from the opportunity to tailor their graduation path.

Last year, I served on a panel of education and business leaders to find ways for students to customize their high school learning experience. If we’re really serious about preparing students to enter the workforce or college, we need to ensure students leave high school with the necessary skills to be successful. One of the key takeaways from this panel was giving students the flexibility to pursue internships, apprenticeships and other work-based options to fulfill graduation requirements. This session, I authored legislation that would give local schools the flexibility to partner with businesses and colleges in the community to give students the chance to explore career opportunities that actually interest them.

The panel also addressed Indiana’s diploma options. Right now, working toward and obtaining a college-or-career-ready diploma is not a straightforward process for all Hoosier students. One of my proposed bills would take Indiana’s current four diploma options and create a single diploma with general, Core 40, Core 40 with academic honors or Core 40 with technical honors designations. To ensure students are actively pursuing skills that will be helpful once they leave high school, the Core 40 designation will be the default diploma option.  

For many students, Algebra II acts as a barrier to achieving the current Core 40 diploma. While an extremely important math course for students pursuing STEM subjects or college readiness, Algebra II is not always vital to many students’ post-high school plans. My legislation would give the State Board of Education the flexibility to consider other, more career-appropriate math course requirements, so a student’s progress is not hindered by a single class. It is my hope that this flexibility will keep students on a graduation pathway that best suits their needs while also ensuring they are prepared to enter a career or some form of post-secondary education.

Both of these bills go a long way in setting up future graduating classes for success by giving them a well-rounded education experience.

These are just two of hundreds of proposals being considered by the House of Representatives. We’re getting close to the halfway point, when bills switch chambers. In order for a bill to still be considered, it must be heard in committee this week, and then voted on the floor before Feb. 5. To see which bills are still being debated and to watch committee hearings and session meetings, visit iga.in.gov. You can also visit www.in.gov/h91 to sign-up to receive my weekly e-newsletter. If you have any questions or concerns about legislation moving through the process, you can contact me at 317-232-9643 or h91@iga.in.gov.   

-30-

State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.

Behning serves as the chair of the House Committee on Education.

A high-resolution photo of Behning can be downloaded by clicking here.