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Computer Science Bill Moves to Senate Floor; Employability Skills and Work Ethic Certificate Legislation Well Received; and Other Education Updates

2018-01-26T14:32:25+00:00 January 26th, 2018|

Computer Science Bill Moves to Senate Floor  

 Bill # and Title: SB 172 – Computer Science Curriculum
Author: Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond)
Summary: Establishes the Next Level Computer Science Grant Program and the Next Level Computer Science Fund to award grants, after June 30, 2019, to eligible entities to implement teacher professional development programs for training in teaching computer science. Requires the Department of Education to: (1) administer the program and fund; and (2) develop guidelines to award grants from the fund to eligible entities. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school, including a charter school, to offer a computer science course as a one semester elective course in its curriculum at least once each school year to high school students. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school, including a charter school, to include computer science in the public school’s curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee and voted out unanimously 12-0. Moves to the full Senate floor for amendments and discussion.

Update/Chamber Action: Senate Bill 172 aligns with an Indiana Chamber top priority to have all K-12 schools offer computer science courses. We are hearing from an increasing number of employers that they need more employees with experience in STEM or computer science. These courses provide not only incredible knowledge in high-demand, high-wage fields, but also provide critical thinking and soft skills that are so important to employers. With the growing number of tech companies moving to Indiana, as well as the notion that almost every company these days is a tech company of some sort, it is more important than ever that Hoosier students have the availability of computer science courses in all K-12 schools across Indiana. (Ultimately, the Chamber would like to see computer science as a graduation requirement.)

In addition, we testified in support of the teacher professional development fund to be created. All are in step with our Indiana Vision 2025 goals to help skill up the state’s future workforce.

High School Diploma and Graduation Pathways Legislation Moves to House Floor

Bill # and Title: HB 1426 – Education Matters
Author: Rep. Bob Behning (R-Plainfield)
Summary: Requires the State Board of Education to establish one Indiana diploma for individuals who successfully complete high school graduation requirements. Provides that each Indiana diploma must include one of the following designations: (1) General designation. (2) Core 40 designation. (3) Core 40 with academic honors designation. (4) Core 40 with technical honors designation. Requires, in adopting Core 40 curriculum models, the State Board to consider math course requirements other than Algebra II. Provides that a nationally recognized college entrance exam shall be administered as part of the statewide assessment program for high school students. Eliminates the requirement of end-of-course assessments to be administered as part of the statewide assessment program. Provides that the State Board may approve a local graduation pathway. Establishes the local graduation pathway fund
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the House Education Committee and voted out 10-1; now recommitted to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber supports a single diploma model, as long as it is rigorous and starts at the Core 40 level with an opt-out to the general diploma. We also strongly support conforming changes to reflect the work of the Graduation Pathways Taskforce recommendation passed by the State Board of Education last fall. (The Chamber was a representative on the Graduation Pathways Taskforce in 2017.) Lastly, we appreciate the General Assembly working with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the state diploma will be compliant with federal regulations while maintaining rigor.

Employability Skills and Work Ethic Certificate Legislation Well Received

Bill # and Title: SB 297 – Employability Skills Curriculum
Author: Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond)
Summary: Provides that, not later than July 1, 2019, each school within a school corporation shall include interdisciplinary employability skills standards established by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), in consultation with the Department of Education and approved by the State Board of Education, in the school’s curriculum. Establishes the Work Ethic Certificate program and fund. Requires the DWD to administer the program.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard by the Senate Education Committee and voted out unanimously; it’s now recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber is supportive of the creation of employability skills standards, as we hear from employers every day about the need for student graduates with stronger soft skills. In addition, the Chamber is very supportive of the Governor’s successful Work Ethic Certificate program and we welcome it to be codified into law with the hopes that funding can be secured during the 2019 session.

Narrow Workforce Bill Moves On – But With Concerns

Bill # and Title: SB 157 – Real World Career Readiness Program
Author: Sen. John Ruckleshaus (R-Indianapolis)
Summary: Establishes the Real World Career Readiness program. Provides that the State Board of Education shall establish the program to provide a Real World Career Readiness student with career and technical education credentials necessary to transition from school to the workforce. Provides that the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Department of Workforce Development, may create an authorized program or approve high or moderate value career and technical education programs administered by one or more school corporations or charter schools. Provides that a Real World Career Readiness student may attend an authorized program for a period of not more than one school year after the student’s cohort’s expected graduation year in order to obtain an industry recognized certification, credential or postsecondary degree. Provides that a program must include an apprenticeship program, a cooperative program or a work-based learning program.
Chamber Position: Support in Part/Oppose in Part
Status: Passed out of the Senate Education Committee with no amendments and was recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber always supports Hoosier students expanding their educational career beyond high school, as they will need some sort of postsecondary education or training for the jobs of the future. However, some schools are already providing industry-recognized credentials in their existing four-year program. We also need to ensure that we are not taking away funding from our postsecondary institutions to implement such a program. In addition, some provisions seem to duplicate or conflict with the recently passed Graduation Pathways Taskforce recommendations. The author had indicated that he was going to strip out the current language and send the issues to the study committee – yet that never happened. We will continue working with the author to remedy our concerns.

 Resource: Caryl Auslander at (317) 264-6880 or email: causlander@indianachamber.com