Indiana may tie college aid to state exam

Students will have to pass Indiana’s graduation exam to qualify for state-funded college aid under a bill moving through the Legislature, reports the Indianapolis Star. Those at risk of failing the state exam will be offered remedial courses in 12th grade.

Students can graduate without passing the exam by getting a waiver. More than a quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools graduates needed waivers to earn diplomas last year, reports the Star.

“The bill is intended to break a cycle in which a student achieves a high school diploma, enrolls in a college, is given a placement exam and then told they need remediation,” said Dan Clark, executive director of the Education Roundtable. “Then they must use their financial aid to pay for it.”

. . .  “Sometimes they go into debt to pay for these courses,” Clark said, “and the evidence is clear very few students who have this cycle ever graduate from an institution of higher education.”

Older students enrolling in college would have to pass placement tests to qualify for state aid under the bill. “I’m worried that this is one more road block,”said Jeff Terp, a senior vice president at Ivy Tech Community College.

The bill’s advocates say students should catch up on basic skills in high school or in adult education courses, rather than taking remedial courses in college.

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    Students can graduate without passing the exam by getting a waiver. More than a quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools graduates needed waivers to earn diplomas last year, reports the Star.

    Just stating the obvious, but … THIS IS NOT GOOD. And this sort of thing really undermines the value of a high school diploma.

    • Mark,

      This sort of thing has been going on for years in most school districts. Student graduates with high school diploma (with or without exit exam) while taking college prep coursework, then they go to college and find out that they’ll need a boatload of remedial work in order just to be admitted into a major or program at the college.

      It’s another myth in the pool of education, I’m afraid.

      • MD has had grad exams in several subjects since the mid-90s or so. They’re given for the first time in 7th grade, IIRC, and for the seventh-graders taking honors classes in western MoCO, very high scores were a given. The only test prep was a reminder to fill out the demographic info and make sure the number of the answer number matched the question number. A MoCo grad commented, on another website, that only kids getting a high pass on the HS exit exams before they entered HS were really on the ready-for-real-(non-remedial)college track. The exams were really at about 8th-grade level.

        • Momof4,

          The roar from parents for years over the CASHEE in California (their exit exam) was that it tested math at approximately grade level 8 to 9, and english (reading/writing at no more than 10th grade level).

          Never mind that most minority students couldn’t pass it, and they’d be set up for failure if they attempted to enroll in a community/junior/4 year college.


  2. I’m a little concerned how this law will impact homeschoolers, since our kids don’t usually take state exams, and most local districts won’t allow homeschooled students to sit for the PSAT, much less state exams. (You basically have to find a private school willing to allow your child to test.) I put a call into the state house— my guess is they didn’t think about that before writing the bill…..

    • Good point. One “solution” I would avoid is having homeschoolers take the state testing or PSATs at public schools – too much vulnerability to sabotage of scores. Perhaps those tests could be made available through Sylvan or Kumon, since they already handle lots of testing for various groups. I know my son took his GMAT at the local Sylvan. Both that and the PSAT are part of the same outfit, so it is theoretically possible.