Indiana Affirms General Diploma Distinction Despite Federal Waiver Determination

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced today the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has formally denied Indiana’s waiver request regarding the inclusion of all Indiana high school diplomas in graduation rate calculations as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). IDOE is disappointed in this decision, given the negative impact this will have on students, schools, communities, and our State.

“It’s unfortunate USDOE exercised federal overreach in denying Indiana’s diploma waiver request,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Jennifer McCormick. “Our waiver clearly demonstrated Indiana’s diploma requirements as comparable to and often times exceeding those of other states whose ESSA plans were approved. 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.”

The new federal definition for “regular high school diploma” raised concerns due to ramifications and unjust accountability implications for Indiana districts and schools. Under this definition, roughly 8,000 students’ achievement in earning an Indiana high school diploma would not be counted in the State’s graduation rate. In response, IDOE took immediate action and requested this necessary waiver from the USDOE.

Fortunately, knowing a waiver would have been a short-term solution to a long-term problem, Indiana’s General Assembly took action in House Enrolled Act 1426. Although Indiana will see a one-year artificial decline in its federal graduation rate, this will normalize as an outcome of this legislation. Parents can be confident diplomas with general distinction will remain as a recognized diploma in Indiana.

Please note, federal graduation rate data for Indiana schools will be available May 25, 2018.

To view IDOE’s waiver request, please visit

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